Digital StrongARM chip muscles in on palmtops

As Intel Corp. focuses on processors to boost notebook PC performance, Digital Equipment Corp.

As Intel Corp. focuses on processors to boost notebook PC performance, Digital Equipment Corp.'s Semiconductor Division is thinking much smaller -- subnotebooks, handhelds and cellular Webphones, to be exact.

The Maynard, Mass., company announced today it will ship early next year the StrongARM SA-1100, a 133MHz and 200MHz embedded processor that will be supported by nine different operating systems.

When full-swing production starts in the first quarter of 1998, the new StrongARM RISC processor will run on Microsoft Corp.'s Windows CE 2.0 devices, Newton Inc.'s NewtonOS, JavaSoft Inc.'s JavaOS, Lucent Technologies Inc.'s Inferno, Psion Software PLC's EPOC32, Microware Inc.'s OS-9, Geoworks Inc.'s Sokoto, JMI Software Systems Inc.'s C-Executive and Wind River Systems Inc.'s VxWorks.

The chip is suitable for smaller form factor devices because it consumes low power and emulates some communications functions, such as v.34 modems, in software, company officials said.

Both 133MHz and 200MHz versions of the StrongARM processor include integrated memory controllers that support a variety of memory types such as SDRAM, DRAM, Flash and ROM. The architecture also supports up to two PCMCIA Cards, color resolutions up to 1,024 by 1,024 dpi and I/O interfaces including USB.

The 133MHz processor will be priced at $29, the 200MHz processor at $39 in 10,000-unit quantities.

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