XScale chips to power new mobile monitors

Intel's XScale processor technology has been chosen to power a handful of new wireless monitors being cooked up by hardware makers to take advantage of Microsoft Corp.'s Mira technologies, the chip maker said Friday.

Koninklijke Philips Electronics NV and ViewSonic Corp. will use the Intel chips to power wireless "smart display devices" based on Mira, a technology that allows users to access their Windows XP desktop from a portable monitor.

Both hardware makers will use Intel's PXA250 applications processor to power their Mira-enabled devices due out in the fourth quarter of this year, Intel said.

The Santa Clara, California, chip maker launched its XScale processor line in mid-February, touting the new chips as perfectly suited to networking given their low power consumption, which allows for extended battery life, and high performance.

Just to emphasize the appropriateness of marrying XScale with Mira, Intel also said that it is making a mobile monitor reference design available to Mira device manufacturers. The reference design will be for a 10.4 inch (26.4 centimeters), 16-bit pixel display with Intel StrataFlash memory and Intel wireless LAN technologies. Future reference designs are also in the works for a detachable monitor that functions as a primary PC and mobile monitor, the company said.

While Intel appears keen on the mobile monitor push, consumers have not seen many real world examples yet. Microsoft just unveiled its Mira technologies earlier this year. Since then, however, a number of PC makers have thrown their support behind the idea.

The target right now is on home use, offering consumers the same kind of mobility with their home PCs as they get from cordless phones. By tapping on a monitor with a stylus or using a mouse, users could presumably access all the content and applications in their PC via a wireless connection and view them on the mobile display.

"This is really quite new and makes a whole lot of sense because it separates the interface from the computer," said Martin Reynolds, research fellow with Gartner Inc.'s Dataquest Inc. division.

Reynolds envisions a device whereby users cannot only access their computer applications and content, but also control other devices in their homes, letting them choose CDs or play games, for example.

However, one important part of user adoption will be making the devices "dead easy" to use, Reynolds said.

Intel hopes that the inclusion of XScale chips will help facilitate this ease, ensuring longer battery life and high processing speeds.

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