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Intel updates chips for handhelds

The chipmaker is altering the specs of its XScale processors so devices will be better able to incorporate additional features, such as Wi-Fi connectivity and integrated cameras.

Chipmaker Intel is altering the specifications of its XScale processors so that handheld devices will be better able to incorporate additional features, such as Wi-Fi connectivity and integrated cameras.

Santa Clara, Calif.-based Intel said Monday that it is providing device makers with samples of two new chips, the XScale PXA263 and PXA260, and products using the processors will be available later this year. The PXA263 is the latest in Intel's line of "stacked" chips, which incorporate StrataFlash memory and an XScale core. Stacking the components reduces the number of parts in a device and gives manufacturers the option to reduce the size of a product or add other features without making a device bigger. The PXA260 chips are about 53 percent smaller than other processors, potentially leading to lower cost chips and improved battery life.

Both are available in 200MHz, 300MHz and 400MHz clock speeds. The PXA263 incorporates 32MB of 32-bit StrataFlash memory. A 200MHz PXA263 processor costs $42.35 in 10,000 unit quantities, and a 200MHz PXA260 processor costs $22.85 in 10,000 unit quantities.

The company also formally announced its PXA255 chips. As previously reported, the PXA255 chips are the successor to the PXA250 chips and double the speed--from 100MHz to 200MHz--at which the processor can communicate with other components within the device, such as memory.

"With today's announcement, Intel has continued to enable even more features and functionality by continuing to take advantage of Intel's industry-leading design and manufacturing expertise," Hans Geyer, Intel vice president and general manager of the Intel PCA Components Group, said in a statement.

Intel is also looking to extend the reach of its XScale chips from handhelds to wireless smart displays and portable media players.

And the company is eyeing the cell phone market with its "Internet on a chip" device, code-named Manitoba but formally called the Intel PXA800F. The cellular processor includes a 312MHz XScale processor, 4MB of flash memory and a 104MHz digital signal processor. It will be available to phone makers in the third quarter for $35 each in volume. The chip will be used in cell phones that run on Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) and General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) networks.

Intel is also working on its next-generation XScale handheld processor, called Bulverde, according to sources. The new chip will largely be aimed at devices such as Hewlett-Packard's iPaq rather than at cell phones and will likely be significantly faster than current handheld processors.