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Motorola to combine cell phone chips

The company is planning chips that will contain most of the functions that are required to make a smart phone--a move that will cut the manufacturing cost of advanced cell phones.

Motorola plans to start shipping chips next year that will contain most of the functions that are required to make a smart phone--a move that will cut the manufacturing cost of advanced cell phones.

Chips that are made under Motorola's MXC architecture will contain a microprocessor for processing Internet data and applications, a digital signal processor for managing cell phone calls and communications, and an integrated security engine, the company said Wednesday. Typically, these functions are handled by independent chips.

Besides cutting costs, integrating chips reduces the overall volume and size of phones, because there are fewer parts. Ideally, phones also could get to market quicker, because designers wouldn't have to worry about as many pieces.

Rivals Texas Instruments and Intel have already released integrated processors for the cell phone market, but Motorola has improved on the theme by more cleanly separating the computing functions from the communications functions, said Alan Leibovitch, an analyst at IDC. In other integrated chips, the "computing" core is often enlisted to assist the digital signal processor, he said.

"It is very similar to the Intel approach, but it will have a little more performance and some more features," he said. "The key here is that you have smart phone functionality at the shape, cost and size of a regular phone."

The first chips that embody the MXC architecture will appear in sample quantities in the second half of 2004.

Earlier in the day, Motorola announced that it will include audio- and video-streaming software from RealNetworks on its Linux-based phones in 2004.