Intel Corp. last week introduced three handheld computer processors designed to save battery life while still performing faster than previous versions.
The chips consist of the PXA263, the companys first “stacked” processor for handheld computers; the PXA260, which is designed to make PDA upgrades easier; and the PXA255, which is a replacement for the PXA250, said officials at the Santa Clara, Calif., company.
The PXA263 stacks 32MB of 32-bit memory with an XScale processor. An Intel official described the process as sandwichlike. Putting the memory on top of the chip—rather than on the board next to it—reduces the number of components in a PDA. This saves space and makes room for other features that are becoming almost standard on handheld devices, such as WLAN (wireless LAN) support, which customers have grown to expect.
“Were using a variety of devices for trading applications on our wireless LAN—[Hewlett-Packard Co.s] Compaq iPaqs, Dell [Computer Corp.] Axims and Toshiba [America Information Systems Inc.] Tablet PCs,” said Jeff Komarek, IT manager at the Chicago Board of Trade.
Komarek said the board is using more than 150 devices on the WLAN. The board uses an 802.11b network, which offers speeds up to 1M bps, but plans to upgrade to a faster network in a few months, meaning the devices can process the transactions faster.
The PXA263 processor comes in versions of 200MHz, 300MHz and 400MHz.
The PXA260, a stand-alone processor with no embedded flash memory, is also available in those three speeds. It is designed to be compatible with the rest of the Intel PXA26x family, meaning product manufacturers can build a single board and keep adding to it without having to change the design. This should save time for companies that want to build stripped-down, lightweight devices, as well as high-end, feature-crammed products. It is also more than 50 percent smaller than Intels prior stand-alone processors—13 millimeters by 13 mm by 1.4 mm, compared with 17 mm by 17 mm by 1.75 mm.
The PXA255 is faster but less power-consuming than its predecessor. Its bus speed is higher, but its voltage is lower—1.3 volts at 400MHz, officials said. Acer Inc., Casio Computer Co., Dell and Toshiba are among the customers using the PXA255, which is available now.
The PXA263 and PXA260 are sampling, with production volumes expected in the second quarter. Officials at Intel declined to say who the licensees would be but said they have already seen a handful of lightweight PDA prototypes designed to use the processors.