Samsung releases 32-bit RISC chip for handhelds

Samsung Semiconductor Inc., a subsidiary of Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., introduced a 32-bit RISC (reduced instruction set computing) processor for handheld devices such as cell phones and personal digital assistants (PDA) Tuesday at Microsoft Corp.'s Windows Embedded DevCon in Las Vegas.

The S3C2410 is designed to be a low-cost alternative to other processors for handheld devices on the market from companies like Intel Corp. and Texas Instruments Inc., said Paul Yang, senior marketing and product planning manager for Samsung. It costs US$12 per chip in 100,000-unit quantities, and is available worldwide as of Tuesday.

The company included several functions directly on the chip, reducing the number of components designers need to complete an entire PDA system, Yang said. This cuts down the investment required by PDA or cell phone designers, he said.

For instance, a TFT (thin film transistor)/STN (super-twisted nematic) LCD (liquid crystal display) controller, a USB (universal serial bus) controller, and a SD/MMC (secure digital/multimedia card) controller are incorporated right into the chip, so separate controllers for those functions are not needed in a PDA with the S3C2410, he said.

The chip is based on the ARM920T core from Arm Ltd., built on 0.18-micron process technology. Samsung will continue to make chips based on the ARM core in the future, as "the ARM core is a de-facto standard in mobile devices," Yang said.

It runs at a clock speed of 200MHz, with a 256MHz version expected by the end of the year, Yang said. Samsung Semiconductor, based in San Jose, California, was expected to show several reference designs of devices with the S3C2410 processor at Windows Embedded DevCon Tuesday.