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Intel to launch new chip for mobile phones

Hardware giant focuses on mobile sector

In a move that will put pressure on mobile chip makers Texas Instruments and Motorola, processor giant Intel plans to launch a new processor designed for use in mobile phones.

Intel will announce the chip, called Manitoba, in the US this Wednesday with a European release date to be announced shortly.

Designed for use in phones and handheld devices that support gsm (global system for mobile communications) and GPRS (general packet radio service) networks, Manitoba is the first processor from Intel's Wireless Computing and Communications Group to include an on-chip DSP (digital signal processor) alongside Intel's ARM-based XScale processor core. The chip will also have flash memory.

By including a DSP core and a processor core on a single piece of silicon, chips like Manitoba allow handset makers to reduce the size of mobile phones as well as their power consumption, thereby extending battery life.

The Manitoba chip, which Intel began producing in sample quantities during the fourth quarter of last year, will compete directly against TI's line of Omap (open multimedia applications platform) processors, which also include a DSP alongside an ARM processor core.

XScale processors, like the PXA250, have found their way into a wide range of PDAs running Microsoft's Pocket PC 2002 software, but the chip has yet to make an entry into the mobile phone market. That sector is currently dominated by other chip makers, such a TI, and Intel has been betting on Manitoba to help it make inroads the arena.

The introduction of Manitoba is one of several major processor-related announcements expected from Intel in the coming weeks.

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