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Samsung unveils fastest handheld chip

The Korean electronics giant says it has developed the world's fastest mobile CPU, which runs at a core speed of 533MHz, and outpaces Intel's processor. But for how long?

Korean electronics giant Samsung has beaten Intel to take the crown in handheld processor speed.

The company said it has developed the world's fastest mobile CPU (central processing unit), the S3C2440, which runs at a core speed of 533MHz.

The S3C2440 uses the ARM920T, a microprocessor based on a chip architecture devised by ARM Holdings of Cambridge, England, which has a low power requirement of only 1.3 volts.

The new CPU features integrated flash memory and supports handheld features such as a camera interface, memory-card expansion and USB (Universal Serial Bus) connectivity.

The S3C2440 works with major handheld operating systems, including Microsoft Windows CE, Palm OS, Symbian and Linux, Samsung said.

The company will also introduce 400MHz and 300MHz variants of this processor, and is looking at mass production by the fourth quarter of this year. Samsung's current 266MHz mobile CPU is in use in devices such as Hewlett-Packard's iPaq H1940.

Before this announcement, Intel's XScale-based PXA handheld processors held the lead in speed, topping out at around 400 MHz. Samsung's edge could be short-lived, as Intel is reportedly preparing a new speed demon called Bulverde, which is significantly faster than its older processor.

Handheld chipmakers such as Intel, Samsung, Motorola and Texas Instruments have been trying to turbocharge mobile processors to support demanding multimedia applications. The same trend is also taking place in the converged phone/PDA market, where faster processors are needed to support multitasking, letting consumers toggle between different applications while making a call.

According to a recent report by the market research company Gartner Dataquest, the global application/multimedia processor market will reach 25 million units this year and is expected to soar to 170 million units by 2007.

CNETAsia staff reported from Singapore..