Arm reveals Neon multimedia extension technology

Microprocessor designer Arm has developed a new multimedia technology called Neon that will help improve the performance of consumer electronics devices that process multiple tasks, the company said Monday.

Arm designs processor cores for mobile devices, such as smart phones and personal digital assistants, that other semiconductor companies license and use to build chips. A great deal of companies in the mobile processing world have used Arm's designs as the basis for their products, including Texas Instruments, FreeScale Semiconductor, Intel and Samsung Semiconductor.

Mobile devices are expected to evolve into consumer electronics platforms over the next few years. Vendors and industry analysts believe that consumers are very interested in portable media devices that can play movies, songs or video games and connect to the Internet. Demand for that type of product is still lukewarm at this point, but companies like Arm and its partners are preparing for the day when users are ready for full-length movies on a handheld device.

Neon will allow device manufacturers to support multiple video streams, three-dimensional graphics and image processing in their next-generation devices. The technology is a SIMD (single instruction multiple data) instruction set that can be used with either 64-bit or 128-bit data paths.

Neon will arrive in processor cores targeted for next year, an Arm spokeswoman said. Products based on the technology will appear between 2006 and 2008, depending on how the Cambridge, England, company's licensees plan to implement the technology, she said.

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Tom Krazit

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