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Texas Instruments corrals AMD for its cell phone plans

The company strikes an alliance with AMD that will potentially allow TI to extend its influence over the design of cell phones and other wireless devices.

Texas Instruments has struck an alliance with Advanced Micro Devices that will potentially allow TI to extend its influence over the design of cell phones and other wireless devices.

Under the alliance, TI will incorporate flash memory from AMD into its Open Multimedia Application Platform (OMAP), sort of a manufacturing blueprint for wireless devices.

By following OMAP specifications, device makers can save substantial amounts of time and money that otherwise might be consumed in the independent development process.

"We're being asked to do more than in the previous generation of phones," said Paul Werp, worldwide marketing manager of OMAP at TI. "They (cell phone makers) are asking for something that is much more involved."

OMAP helps TI sell more chips, as the architecture is largely based around the company's products, including a digital signal processor and microprocessors. So far, Nokia, Ericsson and Sony have said they will adopt OMAP recommendations for cell phones, while TI will work with Handspring to promote the architecture for add-on devices for the Visor handheld computer.

Both Intel and Motorola are promoting similar, competing architectural blueprints.

Adding flash memory to OMAP cuts out one more layer of independent product development, as virtually all of these devices contain flash memory.

Besides cutting out some design tasks, TI's specifications also reduce costs by shrinking board space. Under the guidelines, flash memory and the main microprocessors will be stacked on top of each other in the same package, rather than sitting side-by-side, according to Werp.

By stacking, about 100 square millimeters of circuit board space is saved. This spare room can be eliminated or filled with a Bluetooth or global positioning system chip.

Stacking also improves battery consumption because electrons have less distance to travel, Werp said.