Pushing Handheld Advances Thru Software

Intel on Tuesday announced two new software advances it says boost performance on handheld devices built using the company's XScale chips.

SAN JOSE, Calif.—Intel Corp. on Tuesday announced two new software advances it contends significantly boost multimedia capabilities and application performance on handheld devices built using the companys XScale processors and StrataFlash memory chips

First, the chip maker disclosed that it will migrate its MMX technology, a multimedia-enhancing technology currently featured in its PC processors, into its XScale chips-designed handheld devices, such as personal digital assistants like Hewlett-Packard Co.s Compaq Ipaq, and smart phones, primarily found in overseas markets.

Called Intel Wireless MMX, the 64-bit parallel multimedia architecture could boost application performance up to 60 percent in XScale-based handhelds. In addition, application developers can leverage the technology to reduce performance demands on the processor, allowing it to scale down its clock speed and voltage, which can increase battery life up to 30 percent.

Once the new instructions are embedded in the chips delivered next year, handheld users will see immediate benefits in being able to take advantage of existing applications originally developed for desktop and notebook PCs, an Intel executive said.

"Bringing the hundreds of thousands of MMX-based applications from the Intel Pentium processor family to the Intel PCA [personal internet client architecture] family will help accelerate the deployment of rich wireless devices and further extend the advanced capabilities of our building blocks," Ron Smith senior vice president and general manager, Intel Wireless Communications and Computing Group, said in a keynote address here at the chip makers Developers Forum.

In another development, Intel, of Santa Clara, Calif., said it has redesigned the software used in conjunction with its StrataFlash memory chips to improve application performance by eliminating the transfer of data from flash memory to the handhelds DRAM.

Specifically, Intel has developed a capability it calls "execute in place," which enables wireless applications to run directly out of flash memory. Previously, such data had to be transferred from flash memory to DRAM before the program would run. The new design saves power and increases performance by eliminating potential data loss or corruption that can occur when information is transferred from one computer component to another.

The "execute in place" feature is available for download by developers now in the latest versions of two software packages designed for use with Intel StrataFlash memory chips: Persistent Storage Manager, also known as PSM; and Flash Data Integrator.