3GSM - TI's new mobile phone chip aims for all-in-one

Texas Instruments announced a new handset chip aimed at transforming handsets into all-in-one devices, including a 12-megapixel camera.

Texas Instruments, the world's largest maker of chips for mobile phones, Tuesday announced a new handset chip aimed at completing the transformation of a handset into an all-in-one device that includes the functions of a 12-megapixel camera, a music player, a computer and a phone.

The new line of microprocessors, dubbed OMAP3 (Open Multimedia Applications Platform), focuses heavily on graphics applications. The first chip in the series, the OMAP3430 processor, will enable 12-megapixel photos with less than a one second shot-to-shot delay, twice as good as an earlier TI processor in its OMAP2 series, the company said in a statement.

Watching out for the latest chips is important for users to let them know what kind of gadgets might be coming down the road, since chips are the heart of every digital device. TI expects to provide handset makers with samples of the new chip by the middle of this year so they can begin developing new mobile phones around them. The chips won't be produced in volume until 2007, TI said, meaning that mobile phones using the OMAP3430 probably won't be available to users until early next year.

The new chip heavily favors video applications. The OMAP3430 enables a phone maker to offer a camcorder with DVD-quality playback on a mobile phone, one that allows the handset to record and play movies at DVD quality for all popular standards, including MPEG4, Windows Media 9 and RealVideo 10, in addition to video-conferencing.

The processor also offers a high-definition (HD)-quality player onboard, allowing users to download movies onto their phone and watch them on a high-definition monitor, TI said. In addition, the chip will support all known mobile digital TV decode standards, and will include S-video output to allow high quality video to be displayed on an external TV monitor or projector.

The processor was designed to support all major high-level OSs, including Linux, Symbian OSTM and Windows Mobile, TI said.

TI also designed the new chip with an eye for extending battery life. The company is making the chip using 65-nanometer production technology, which helps reduce heat and power consumption. The nanometer measurements are an indication of the size of transistors and other parts that are etched onto chips. The more transistors on a chip, and the closer they are together, the faster the chip can perform tasks. Shrinking the size of chips is also important for TI's mobile phone push, because it provides users with one small device that can perform many tasks.

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