Parthus and Psion unveil 'breakthrough' chip

Shares soar as companies unveil 'system on a chip' for 3G devices

Ireland's Parthus Technologies Wednesday announced a breakthrough in chip design it hopes could thrust it to the forefront of the mobile communications revolution.

Parthus unveiled a single chip computer design called Infostream, which could drive a broad range of next generation mobile devices such as phones and Internet appliances. The chip design was developed with UK handheld computer manufacturer Psion (quote: PON), which has agreed to license it for a new range of products. It will also be used by US mobile phone manufacturer Motorola in its new generation "smartphones", Parthus said.

The company's shares jumped on the London exchange following the news, gaining 18.5p or 6.88 percent to 257p by 10am GMT. Psion shares were up 16p or nearly three percent to 560p.

The new design combines the capabilities of a personal computer, third generation mobile phone and geographical positioning system, and has substantial cost, power and ease-of-use benefits.

Parthus said the design, which would cost just a few dollars per chip in quantity, would "drastically" reduce the time it took to get future mobile Internet devices to market. The company floated on the London Stock Exchange and on Nasdaq in May.

Parthus made it clear that despite a rocky start for "converged" mobile devices, such as the unpopular WAP (wireless application protocol), the company is focussed on a future of mobile computing. "We are entering the era of mobile, connected computing and communication," said Brian Long, chief executive officer of Parthus, in a statement.

"By delivering the mobile Internet on a chip, InfoStream helps bring us closer to the true pervasiveness of next generation Smartphones that will harness the power of the Internet, the PC and the mobile phone through one handheld device."

An industry observer said InfoStream is well suited to such next-generation gadgets. "With the growth of mobile data services expected to skyrocket within the next few years, the Parthus InfoStream platform... is well positioned to be a major market player in the next generation of Internet enabled mobile devices," said Allen Nogee, senior analyst at Cahners In-Stat Group, in a prepared statement.

Psion is the principal mover in the Symbian alliance, which aims to build smartphones based on Psion's EPOC operating system, and which released its first product last month in the form of an Ericsson PDA/mobile phone.

Other players in the smartphone space include Microsoft, Intel, Motorola, Palm and others.

Reuters contributed to this report.

Take me to ZDNet UK's special report: The Road to 3G.

See techTrader for more technology investment news, plus quotes and research.

See Chips Central for daily hardware news, including interactive roadmaps for AMD, Intel and Transmeta.

Would you buy a smartphone, or are they rubbish? To have your say online click on the TalkBack button and go to the ZDNet News forum.

Let the editors know what you think in the Mailroom. And read what others have said.