In time for the start of the Mobile World Congress 2010 show in Spain later this month, Texas Instruments has unveiled the WiLink 7.0 processor, which packs four different technologies-GPS, Bluetooth, an FM transmitter and receiver, and WLAN (wireless LAN) 802.11n-onto a single chip.
While this year's MWC show kicks off Feb. 15 in Barcelona, TI officially announced the new WiLink 7 chip Feb. 9. Right now, TI said the company is shipping chip samples to various, unnamed OEMs, and the company expects products based on the WinLink 7 to hit the market by the end of this year.
The WiLink 7 chip is based on 65-nanometer manufacturing technology, which makes it 50 percent smaller than previous TI chips. This also means the chip uses less power while reducing the overall cost to OEMs that incorporate it into their devices, according to TI.
The TI WiLink 7 chip is geared toward the handset market-cell phones and smartphones-but it can also be used in a number of different small form-factor devices such as mobile Internet devices (MIDs), gaming devices, music players and personal navigation systems. TI is also offering an updated version of its software development kit (SDK) for the WiLink chip that includes support for Linux, Microsoft WinCE, and Symbian.
What makes this WiLink chip different from previous processors is the inclusion of GPS location technology. While all the cores within the chip package work individually, TI has also ensured that all four technologies can coexist and work together.
"For example, mobile-device users could determine their current position with GPS, download a related map over a WLAN connection, and listen to an FM radio station over a Bluetooth headset all at the same time," according to TI.
Each of the four cores on the TI WiLink 7 chip also supports a number of new technologies. For example, the Bluetooth core supports the latest Bluetooth 3.0 specifications, while the WLAN core supports 802.11n, along with older Wi-Fi technology such as 802.11a/b/g. The FM core also supports an internal antenna.
As devices such as smartphones and navigation systems become more popular, the marketplace for mobile chips is also getting more competitive. While companies such as Texas Instruments and Qualcomm have traditionally dominated this market, Intel, which remains the world's leading producer of x86 processors for PCs and servers, is also looking to enter the mobile chip market. With its Atom processor at the heart of this new strategy, Intel has announced deals with handset makers such as Nokia and LG Electronics.
At the same time, TI is looking toward other markets, such as e-readers.