April 11, 2004 10:00 PM PDT
New Intel chips bring notebook muscle to phones
The company will announce Monday its Intel PXA270 family of processors, code-named Bulverde, as well as companion Intel 2700G multimedia chips. The first products to use the PXA270 chips are expected by the end of the month, and those using the PXA270 and 270G chips are due out in the fall. The parts will increase the processing performance of handheld devices, bringing them closer to notebook levels and theoretically reducing the amount of battery power that devices consume.
"We designed these chips from the ground up for and with cell phone makers, and they focus on three things: performance/power consumption, multimedia playback and security," said David Rogers, an Intel wireless marketing manager.
Intel has been looking to take away some of rival Texas Instruments' market share in the cell phone chip business, but the company has struggled. Intel combined its communications businesses--including the division responsible for its cell phone chips--late last year in a move to stem losses.
Intel aims to attract more cell phone makers by incorporating notebook technologies, such as MMX and SpeedStep, into its new chips to boost performance for activities, such as gaming, while better managing power consumption.
"Texas Instruments continues to enjoy strong momentum for its wireless solutions, most recently with OMAP2, but Intel is working hard to compete for market share," said Alex Slawsby, an analyst with research firm IDC. "Bulverde is expected to challenge OMAP2 directly by emphasizing the themes of multimedia, power savings and security--all critical considerations for mobile phone and platform vendors."
The chips will also take advantage of built-in cameras in devices to allow for video conferencing with the addition of Quick Capture technology. And, from the security standpoint, the chips will allow devices to use virtual private network software services to safely access corporate networks, Rogers said.
"If you look at the people that are working on data applications for these devices, they're the same ones that worked on similar applications for notebooks. That's not an accident," Rogers said.
Running those programs on handheld devices will require some muscle, and the company has several chips with great horsepower, all of which are shipping in high quantities. The PXA270 chips are available at 312MHz, 416MHz, 520MHz and 624MHz. The chips can also be stacked with up to 64MB of Intel's StrataFlash memory. The 312MHz chip is available for $32 in 10,000-unit quantities.
The 2700G multimedia chip is available for $17 in 10,000-unit quantities. It will allow devices to play back DVD-quality video, and it supports video formats MPEG-2, MPEG-4 and Microsoft Windows Media Video9.
The chipmaker has worked with developer Intrinsyc on a communications device to serve as a model for how the new Intel parts can be used in finished products. The device can use any number of operating systems, including those from PalmSource, Symbian, Microsoft and MontaVista. It also supports many wireless communications technologies, such as cellular, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.
The company will report first quarter earnings on Tuesday. Intel narrowed its revenue outlook during a midquarter update in early March, citing a build-up of inventory in the Asia-Pacific and Japanese markets in the fourth quarter, which slowed sales in the first quarter.
Intel estimated that revenue would be between $8 billion and $8.2 billion for the quarter, as opposed to its previous forecast of revenue between $7.9 billion and $8.5 billion, set during its fourth-quarter 2003 financial report in January.