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Intel, Mitsubishi to work on advanced cell phones

The chip giant teams with the electronic equipment maker to develop chips for third-generation cell phones, bolstering Intel's presence in the wireless market.

Intel is teaming with Mitsubishi Electric to develop chips for third-generation cell phones.

The deal, which will be detailed in Japan, helps bolster Intel's presence in the wireless market, an area of increased focus for the chip giant. Last October, Intel said it would spend roughly $1.6 billion to acquire DSP Communications, a maker of the chips that accompany a digital signal processor (DSP) in a wireless handset.

The joint effort will focus initially on Japan, but the companies hope eventually to sell the same products in Europe and other areas. Intel did not give a specific date for the chips' arrival, but the product is intended to reach the market at the same time as third-generation cell phones, most likely next year.

Intel didn't offer specifics on which Intel technologies will be used, but the company has a large basket of products it has said it wants to sell to the wireless market. Those include the DSP chip technology, flash memory, its low-power StrongArm processor and a forthcoming digital signal processor developed with Analog Devices.

"Today's announcement of a new chipset solution, developed by Intel and Mitsubishi, further demonstrates our ability to provide competitive solutions to the wireless marketplace," Intel wireless unit head Ron Smith said in a statement.

The deal also leverages Mitsubishi's skills as a maker of cellular phones. Mitsubishi plans to ship more than 25 million cellular phones in fiscal 2000 and at least 60 million units a year by fiscal 2003.

Flash memory has been a booming business for Intel, but the chipmaker has said it wants to supply broader products to the wireless market, including highly integrated chips. In December, Intel formed a group focused on the wireless market.

Smith said recently that Intel is working on integrated chips for cell phones that would combine most of the necessary silicon--flash memory, digital signal processors and microprocessors--into a single package. Such an offering would be less expensive than current chips while allowing Intel to bring its StrongArm processor cores and a yet-to-be-released DSP core to the wireless market.

Intel is working with Analog Devices to develop a DSP core, which is used in cell phones to process analog speech tones as a digital signal. Intel said last February that it expects to have a core design by the second half of this year.