Motorola MX1 First Certified CPU for Palm OS 5
The Motorola Dragonball MX1 is the first microprocessor certified by PalmSource to work with the just released Palm OS 5. This means that any licensee can easily use this processor at the heart of a handheld that runs the new operating system. The DragonBall MX1 is an ARM core-based microprocessor which offers speeds up to 200 MHz.
Certification of the processors of the Palm OS Ready Program members couldn't happen until the final version of Palm OS 5 was available, which wasn't until earlier this month. There should be similar announcements coming from the other chip makers in the near future.
Members of the Palm OS Ready Program create a Device Abstraction Layer (DAL) for their own processors. This is sort of a translation layer between the hardware and the OS, intended to remove any incompatibilities between, say, Motorola and Intel chips. This saves the Palm OS licensees a tremendous amount of work and allows them to choose the processor they like without having to write a DAL of their own.
The Dragonball MX1, which was first announced in June of last year and is now available, offers low power consumption in active, sleep, and shutdown modes. Its peripheral sets include an LCD controller that supports 16 gray-level monochrome, color STN displays, and color TFT displays. It has built in interfaces for Bluetooth and both Sony's Memory Stick and SD, supporting both the main rival expansion card formats. Recently, Motorola demonstrated a real-time MPEG video encoder-decoder and small video camera running on Palm OS 5 and a DragonBall MX1.
At this point, of the Palm OS licensees only Palm has announced who will make the chips for their OS 5 devices. It has said it will use Texas Instruments chips in a wireless device this fall. A report came out last week that Palm would release next year a handheld that runs Intel's Xscale chips. Nothing is known of Sony's, Handspring's, or any other licensee's plans.
However, all the Palm OS Ready Program members have been lobbying heavily to have their processors included in new devices, each trying to show that their processor will offer the greatest capabilities with the lowest power consumption.
About OS 5
PalmSource put the finishing touches on the core of Palm OS 5 and sent it to the licensees earlier this month to include in their next generation of handhelds, expected in the coming months.
At the heart of the new operating system is its support for ARM-based processors. This will allow the Palm OS to run on much faster processors and greatly increase what it can do in the way of multimedia. It also offers greater security and wireless support.
Despite the switch to the new processor, OS 5 will still run a large majority of current Palm OS applications.
Thanks to Gavin Maxwell for the tip. -Ed
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