PM launches silicon chip centre

Prime Minister John Howard today opened a new silicon chip design centre in Sydney that will focus on developing next-generation mobile phones. The Agere Systems design centre, located in Sydney's technology corridor at Lane Cove, currently employs 15 research staff but is expected to grow as the demand for research expertise increases.

Prime Minister John Howard today opened a new silicon chip design centre in Sydney that will focus on developing next-generation mobile phones.

The Agere Systems design centre, located in Sydney's technology corridor at Lane Cove, currently employs 15 research staff but is expected to grow as the demand for research expertise increases.

The team will focus on developing next-generation technology that will deliver the increases in data rates needed to support new and emerging mobile phone applications.

Chris Nicol, Agere Systems Australia managing director, said the team was looking at 3.5G mobile phones with more than one antenna - a feature which will enable phones to have broadband data rates of up to 50 megabits per second. Nicol said a five to six year time frame would be set for the product.

Agere's solution is expected to enable phone manufacturers to more rapidly deliver a broad portfolio of products aimed at addressing the growing demand for multimedia capable wireless devices. Such products can potentially support features like real-time audio and video streaming, digital photo imaging and interactive gaming.

The company's eventual product "will have high processing speed for video, with graphics performance comparable to that of Sony's Playstion. It will stream high resolution HDTV video, have a five megapixel plus camera, a large amount of storage such as a flash drive and also a large hard disk embedded into the mobile phone," Nicol said.

The R&D facility will also be looking at combining various mobile phone transmission protocols such as WCDMA, 2G, GPRS, GSM and Enhanced Data rates for Global Evolution (EDGE) into one product that can seamlessly be used on 2G and 3G networks after the rollout of 3G in Australia.

EDGE is a digital mobile phone technology which acts as a bolt-on enhancement to 2G and 2.5G networks.

"2005 is a good year for 3G but what is important is that we have this dual mode phone in the market now so that the new services that 3G offers can actually be used on 2G phones," Nicol said.

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