Linux set for central role in 3G devices

Texas Instruments plans to make its OMAP wireless platform Linux-friendly, meaning that 3G devices by Nokia, Ericsson, Sony and Sendo could use the open source operating system
Written by Graeme Wearden, Contributor

Linux could soon be playing an important role in the third-generation handheld device market, following the announcement by Texas Instruments on Tuesday that its OMAP wireless architecture would support the open-source operating system.

TI's OMAP wireless platform has already attracted the interest of several big-names companies. The likes of Nokia, Ericsson, Sony and Sendo are understood to have chosen to use the technology in some of their forthcoming 3G devices. By adding support for Linux, TI believes it will help developers to create new applications that will take advantage of the benefits of a 3G network.

"Linux's reliability, flexibility and ease of use combined with TI's highly advanced OMAP architecture will be an attractive solution for developers creating applications for mobile Internet devices," said Paul Werp, TI's marketing manager for the OMAP platform.

By opening its platform up to Linux, TI could be making a significant contribution to the 3G industry. Given the high degree of scepticism in some quarters towards third-generation networks, it is seen as vital that the mobile operators have compelling services and applications to tempt users to move to 3G.

The OMAP architecture has been designed to use as little power as possible, thus maximising battery life.

TI has teamed up with Linux developer RidgeRun. Its DSPLinux embedded operating system is optimised to work within gadgets like PDAs, cameras and phones. TI claims that the combination of DSPLinux and its OMAP processors will help developers to create compelling multimedia applications.

Linux has been making steady progress in the embedded technology market. Back in April chip-designer ARM signed a deal to bring embedded Linux to its processors, while Lineo's version of embedded Linux has found favour with Sharp's PDA designers.

Just over a month ago Evans Research predicted that embedded Linux will overtake proprietary and in-house software in 2002. Next year up to 27 percent of embedded systems projects will be developed using Linux, according to Evans Research, up from 11.2 percent this year.

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