Intel Officially Announces XScale

As had been rumored, Intel today introduced a new chip microarchitecture designed for handheld devices. Building on Intel's StrongARM technology, the XScale microarchitecture core is manufactured on Intel's advanced 0.18-micron process technology. It offers low power operation ranging from one ten-thousandth of a watt to 1.6 watts, and performance that allows it to operate at clock speeds approaching 1 GHz.

While not a lot is known at this point, in April Palm CEO Carl Yankowski said that, in the "near future", at least some of Palm's handhelds will be powered by processors based on the ARM chips. It isn't unreasonable to assume that Palm will be looking at XScale chips very closely in the near future.

"The combination of very low power and high performance makes the Intel XScale microarchitecture well-suited for Internet access devices, such as handheld and portable applications where battery life is essential," said Ron Smith, vice president and general manager of Intel's Wireless Computing and Communications Group.

Cary Snyder, an analyst with market research firm MicroDesign Resources, warned that the fastest XScale chips aren't going to make their way into handhelds that run on a pair of AAA batteries.

"Basically, the bigger the battery, the higher the megahertz," said Snyder. "A handheld isn't going to have the power (to run a chip at 1 GHz)."

The XScale architecture offers performance roughly 20 times the Dragonball and uses less power, said MicroDesign resources analyst Peter Glaskowsky.

Depending on the kind of device they are destined for, the chips can also include special co-processor engines for decoding Internet multimedia that is delivered over a wireless connection, such as video, Intel said.

Michael Sullivan, an Intel spokesman, said in terms of sheer volume, the XScale chips are potentially the biggest chips Intel has ever produced. He cited forecasts of 1 billion wireless Internet devices sold every year.

You can read more about it in the press release or on Intel's site.

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this could be kewl

Raishe_werk @ 8/23/2000 6:29:01 PM #
i am looking forward to this. throw in some color, keep it the size of a palm V, and life will be good.

"Moster Pig kills Jesus
More at 11"

What's in the Future?

I.M. Anonymous @ 8/23/2000 8:43:03 PM #
Does this mean that we will see Palm's with color video and sound soon? Does anyone have an idea of this timing and cost of a unit?

Handheld? Laptop?

Alan Lee @ 8/24/2000 1:29:23 AM #
With this ARM chip, the functions of handheld and laptop converge... I wonder if handhelds really needs these advanced functions. Added to this, this stuff has no future if Intel fails to cut down ARM chip's power consumption.

I'm all for it!

zzami @ 8/27/2000 8:32:10 PM #
If it's a step towards improvement, I guess I'll go along with Palm's vision. I do however, hope that:

a. the ARM chip will run legacy Palm OS software without requiring any modifications.

b. it won't go in the way of Intel's x86 marketing strategy whereby to take advantage of new instruction sets (e.g. the Pentium MMX, Pentium III) you're forced to upgrade to the new Palm with ARM technology.

c. battery consumption will be less or equal to the current crop of Motorola Dragonball EZ processors. Who knows, we Palm IIIc users can finally upgrade to the Palm Vc...(or whatever) :-)

Color is the way to go, like it or not (maybe having MP3 support is going too far). The Palm IIIc's successors will benefit from the ARM chip, I guess.

Limits to usefulness

Mayonardo @ 8/28/2000 1:08:07 PM #
Regardless of speed, handhelds are inherently constrained by thier size. Certain applications (MP3, video & 2-way audio are not "applications", rather entertainment) are infeasible in a small form factor. Real word processing and spreadsheets, graphics, etc. require more than speed: sufficient screen space & a viable human input interface.
Fast, color handhelds are & will be increasingly useful but will remain constrained by their size.


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