Motorola goes small with mobile architecture

Motorola introduced a mobile device architecture on Wednesday that it says will lead to smaller, less expensive and more secure devices for communications and entertainment.

The architecture, called Mobile Extreme Convergence (MXC), also will speed up development of new applications for mobile devices, said Franz Fink, vice president and general manager of Motorola's Wireless and Mobile Systems Group. Fink introduced MXC during a phone conference from the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association's CTIA Wireless I.T. & Entertainment show in Las Vegas.

Motorola expects MXC to deliver a fully-equipped smartphone platform in a package that measures 16 millimeters by 20 millimeters and is just 1.4 millimeters thick. With such a package many kinds of devices, such as MP3 players, DVD players and digital cameras, could be equipped with communications capabilities, according to Motorola. The platform is aimed at wireless technologies including GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications), GPRS (General Packet Radio Service), EDGE (Enhanced Data Rates for Global Evolution) and WCDMA (Wideband Code Division Multiple Access), Fink said. For the future, Motorola is exploring integrated Bluetooth, Wi-Fi (wireless fidelity) and GPS (Global Positioning System), according to the company.

Motorola combined the processor cores for communications and applications in a single package with a shared memory subsystem, which will boost the performance of both, Fink said. At the same time, it separated the software for the two kinds of functions to make things easier for application developers. They will be able to write an application once and easily port it to other MXC devices without worrying about the communications processing, he said.

"We have separated ... the wireless modem software from the application side and in doing so we are putting the application environment in the hands of developers," Fink said.

MXC also integrates a security engine from Motorola's Semiconductor Products Sector to support features such as fingerprint recognition technology and secure over-the-air transactions, the company said. The company put a firewall between the application and communications processing elements of the platform, Fink said.

RF (radio frequency) and power management functions initially will be located in separate chips, Fink said.

Samples of the first MXC silicon will ship to customers starting in the middle of 2004 and products based on the MXC platform should begin shipping in the second quarter of 2005, Fink said.

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Stephen Lawson

IDG News Service
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