Palm Chooses TI Chips for Next Gen Wireless Handhelds
Palm's Solutions Group has selected Texas Instrument's OMAP processor platform to power a set of next-generation wireless handhelds that will use GSM/GPRS technology. Palm branded handhelds that incorporate OMAP processors are expected to be introduced in approximately one year. Palm's contract with TI isn't exclusive so it might use processors from other companies on its non-wireless models. Todd Bradley, Chief Operating Officer of the Solutions Group, said only that TI is his company's preferred source.
Palm has recently been in talks with Intel about using chips from the XScale family, which are also ARM core-based processors.
This is part of Palm's move away from Motorola's Dragonball processors, which are used in all current Palm-powered handhelds, and to processors based on designs from ARM Holdings.
Palm's next operating system, OS 5, is being developed to run on ARM-based chips. These will have much greater processing power than ones currently being used.
Despite the changes, Palm isn't abandoning its past. The new OS will still be able to run the majority of current applications, though there will be some exceptions, including applications that don't follow Palm's ground rules for developing apps.
Palm has been promising that OS 5 will be available in the second half of 2002. If wireless handhelds with TI chips are the first out running OS 5, they will be slipping in just under that wire.
This decision doesn't mean that any of Palm's licensees are required to also use TI processors on their handhelds that run OS 5. Last summer, Palm announced the Palm OS Ready Program. Under it, various chip manufacturers like Intel, Motorola, and TI create Palm OS Ready processors. The "Palm OS Ready" in their names means all of these microprocessors, no matter who makes them, will be able to run the next generation of the Palm OS.
TI's OMAP processors support high-performance and low power consumption -- essential features for any mobile device. Through the Palm OS Ready Program, TI is optimizing the OMAP wireless platform for the Palm OS.
"Working together, Palm and TI can accelerate the convergence of wireless voice, multimedia, and data," said Mr. Bradley. "We believe these capabilities will be increasingly important to the growing number of mobile enterprise users."
The companies also will work together to advertise the new handhelds and expand the market for wireless handhelds. TI also will adopting them internally as an executive standard and place them on its approved technology standards list for its more than 35 thousand employees worldwide.
GSM/GPRS is the wireless standard that dominates the rest of the world but not the U.S. Still, its use is slowly growing. Cingular is installing GSM/GRPS on top of its TDMA and analog networks and AT&T is doing something similar. Verizon Wireless, the biggest wireless carrier in the U.S., is under pressure from its parent company, Vodafone, to switch from CDMA to GSM. GPRS is the next generation of GSM, offering 144 Kbps connections and always-on access.
Palm has already received FCC approval to release a handheld with wireless data capabilities that the company is widely expected to announce early next year. This will be a Dragonball-based model running OS 4.
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- I got one -Tuckermaclain
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