Sharp's Linux handheld to have Intel inside

A prototype of the Sharp PDA (personal digital assistant), which will run a version of Lineo's embedded Linux operating system, will be unveiled at this week's JavaOne conference in San Francisco. The device will feature Intel's StrongARM 206MHz processor, the same chip used in Compaq's iPaq and Hewlett-Packard's Jornada, which run Microsoft's Pocket PC operating system.

"Handhelds are increasing their capabilities to playing movies, games, and music," said Mark Williams, a spokesman for Intel. "All these demand extra battery power and processor performance, and we think the SA1110 is suited for those devices."

Curiously, Sharp in April showed off its own all-in-one chip for gadgets at the Embedded Processor Forum in San Francisco. At the time, Sharp claimed that its LH7A400 processor would directly compete with Intel's StrongARM chips. PDA's from Palm and its licensees, which account for the lion's share of the market, use Motorola's Dragonball processor.

While Sharp's PDA may have Intel inside, it will be "Japanese on the outside," with Japanese characters on the keypad, according to a source familiar with Sharp's plans. The device will run Lineo's Embedix Linux with some customised software, and Java running on top of that, the source said. Sharp is expected to begin shipping the device in the US in the third or fourth quarter, the source said.

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Douglas F. Gray

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