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TI's new OMAP chip not just for phones

Texas Instruments thinks the latest OMAP processor from the market leader for mobile phone chips could wind up in Mobile Internet Devices, as well as its more familiar home inside smartphones.

Texas Instruments has a new OMAP chip to set upon the world, and this time around it's eyeing more than mobile phones.

The new OMAP3440 made its debut in Barcelona at Mobile World Congress 2008. This is the latest in TI's line of OMAP applications processors, which are the equivalent of the CPUs inside PCs.

TI sells standalone applications processors like the 3440 to customers such as Nokia for use in high-end smartphones, but it is also talking up the potential for the 3440 as a chip for Mobile Internet Devices (MIDs). That's Intel's name for an evolving class of handheld computer that's a bit more powerful than a smartphone but smaller and longer running than a notebook.

TI isn't willing to give Intel any ground when it comes to portable handheld devices. Intel has already tried to gain ground against chipmakers like TI, Samsung Electronics, and Freescale Semiconductor with its XScale program. The XScale chip did fairly well as a standalone applications processor, but attempts by Intel to also get into the cellular modem business flopped, and the company offloaded the division in 2006 to Marvell Technology Group.

The new chip, like the Nvidia APX 2500 also unveiled Monday, can record and playback 720p high-definition video. It uses ARM's Cortex A8 core running at 800MHz and can be used with any modem. TI hopes to have samples out for customers to start testing in phone and MID designs by the end of the second quarter.