TI to put mobile phone on a chip

The single-chip phone, due in 2004, will mean a revolution for multimedia mobile phones and wireless PDAs, claims Texas Instruments
Written by Matthew Broersma, Contributor

Texas Instruments said on Wednesday that it is planning to introduce a chip integrating virtually all of the features of a mobile phone by the end of 2004.

At the moment, manufacturers of smartphones and wireless handheld computers must be cautious in adding features such as colour screens, Bluetooth or Wi-Fi connectivity and Web browsing, because each of these functions uses up battery power. A highly integrated mobile phone chip could ease this problem, because the mobile phone part of the equation would, theoretically, consume far less power. Manufacturers currently have to use several chips to give a device mobile phone functions.

In a keynote speech at Salomon Smith Barney's Tech2002 conference in New York, TI chairman, president and chief executive Tom Engibous said that the company is stepping up its integration efforts. "TI will continue to outpace competitors in the wireless semiconductor market due to our aggressive silicon integration roadmap, which includes development of a single-chip cellphone in the next two years," he said, according to a statement.

The single-chip mobile phone product TI is planning for 2004 will include wireless software protocol stacks, digital and analogue basebands, applications processing functions, power management, radio frequency processor and embedded memory. The term "single chip" may not always apply, however, as manufacturers could add other chips for additional features. Bluetooth, for example, was not mentioned as part of the package.

The company has been hawking an integrated Bluetooth processor, the BRF6100, which integrates RF processor, Bluetooth digital and analogue basebands, power management and memory on a chip. The chip uses a .13 micron CMOS (Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor) manufacturing process. TI recently announced a new .09-micron process that it said will allow wireless devices to operate two to three times faster without sacrificing battery life.

TI competes with chipmakers such as Motorola and Intel in the market for mobile phone and handheld computer chips. TI's OMAP710 wireless processor, which integrates a GSM/GPRS modem and applications processor, is used in HP's Jornada 828 wireless PDA and in smartphones from Sendo and Compal.

To find out more about the computers and hardware that these chips are being used in, see ZDNet UK's Hardware News Section.

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