Intel to launch new chip for cell phones on Feb. 12

Intel plans to announce on Wednesday availability of a new processor designed for use in cell phones, the company confirmed Monday.

Intel will announce the chip, called Manitoba, in the U.S. on Wednesday, Feb. 12, and launch events are planned for Thursday in Taiwan, South Korea and China, said Georgine Lin, a spokeswoman for Intel in Taipei.

Designed for use in phones and handheld devices that support GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) and GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) networks, Manitoba is the first processor from Intel's Wireless Computing and Communications Group to include an on-chip DSP (digital signal processor) alongside Intel's ARM-based XScale processor core. The chip will also include flash memory.

By including a DSP core and a processor core on a single piece of silicon, chips like Manitoba allow handset makers to reduce the size of mobile phones and reduce power consumption, extending battery life.

The Manitoba chip, which Intel began producing in sample quantities during the fourth quarter of last year, will compete directly against TI's line of OMAP (open multimedia applications platform) processors, which also include a DSP alongside an ARM processor core.

XScale processors, like the PXA250, have found their way into a wide range of PDAs (personal digital assistants) running Microsoft Corp.'s Pocket PC 2002 software, but the chip has yet to make an entry into the cell phone market. The mobile phone market is now dominated by other chip makers, like TI, and Intel has been betting on Manitoba to help the company make inroads into this market.

The introduction of Manitoba is one of several major processor-related announcements expected from Intel in the coming weeks.

At the International Solid-State Circuits Conference on Feb. 11 in San Francisco, Intel will detail an upcoming 1.5GHz Itanium chip, called Madison, that is made using a 0.13-micron process and includes 6M-bytes of on-chip Level 3 cache. Madison is expected to ship during the middle of this year.

That will be followed on March 12 with the launch of Centrino, a package that includes Intel's upcoming low-power Banias mobile chip, called Pentium-M, and WLAN (wireless LAN) capabilities.

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