Intel is developing two new StrongARM processors that could help in the development of smaller and more powerful handheld computers, smart phones and other portable devices, according to a source familiar with Intel's plans.

The new processors include design tweaks that improve on the performance of Intel's current StrongARM chips without greatly increasing the amount of power consumed, a feature that could enable hardware makers to build handheld computers that run speech applications and even MPEG video clips, the source said.

The disclosure comes on the eve of Intel's twice-yearly developer forum in San Jose, California. The chip maker Wednesday is due to discuss technology improvements it has made to StrongARM, although it's not clear yet whether the company will provide details about actual new products. An Intel spokesman declined to comment.

Also on the agenda this week at Intel Developer Forum (IDF), the chip maker is expected to disclose more details about the Pentium 4, a follow-on to the Pentium III, due in the fourth quarter this year.
One of the StrongARM processors, codenamed Cotulla, will be an integrated processor that includes built-in support for USB (universal serial bus), infrared communications and an LCD (liquid-crystal display) screen.

Cramming this extra functionality into a single chip should allow hardware makers to use smaller motherboards, which could lead to smaller handheld products, according to the source.