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IBM, Intel team on wireless devices

Big Blue is to become the middleman for services and next-generation wireless devices based on Intel's XScale hardware.

IBM will become the middleman for services and next-generation wireless devices based on Intel hardware.

Under an agreement announced Tuesday, IBM will provide middleware software in the form of a version of its WebSphere Everyplace Suite Embedded Edition, for devices based on Intel's XScale family of processors.

Because the software can tie hardware devices to network services, ranging from content to secure transactions, it will become an important piece of Intel's strategy to market the processors and its accompanying digital signal processor and flash memory to cellular hand set and PDA (personal digital assistant) manufacturers.

"Intel is working with leading software, platform and solution providers, such as IBM, to offer developers and device manufacturers a model to rapidly develop applications for next-generation wireless devices," Ron Smith, general manager of Intel's Wireless Communications and Computing Group, said in a statement.

"The whole new classes of devices that are rolling out require a whole new class of applications...(and) new kinds of data," said Jon Prial, director of marketing and strategy for IBM's Pervasive Computing effort.

The partnership will grant developers using Intel's Personal Internet Client Architecture a way of managing the communications between the new applications on wireless devices and the network backbone, Prial said.

IBM's WebSphere Everyplace Suite Embedded will be available with Intel Personal Client Architecture later in the year. IBM is now engaging with Intel in joint meetings with customers.

Meanwhile, the WebSphere Everyplace Suite Embedded software is also being used in a number of other applications, including a residential gateway product to be announced at CeBit in Germany later in the week.

The Personal Internet Client Architecture, a blueprint for developing PDAs and cellular handsets based on Intel hardware. It includes the XScale processor, Intel flash memory products and the Micro Signal Architecture, a digital-signal processor developed with Analog Devices.

Intel is currently marketing the Personal Internet Client Architecture to PDA makers and also cellular handset makers for 2.5G and 3G wireless phones, which are now debuting across Europe and Japan, respectively.

Software will play a huge role in the handheld systems of the future, according to Intel. Carriers, which have invested millions of dollars in 3G wireless networks, need to develop revenue-generating services to pay for those infrastructure upgrades.

The WebSphere port will also support Intel's current StrongARM chips, on which the forthcoming XScale is based.