Comms chips

Intel's VOWLAN Bullhorn

Intel Corp.'s (Nasdaq: INTC) new "Bulverde" cellphone chip will be a springboard for the company to jump into the emerging dualmode (cellular and wireless LAN) handset market.

The chips, officially known as the PXA270 series, are already being used by NEC Corp. for wireless LAN handets. Intel spokesman Mark Miller says that the chip is expected to be generally available for customers in two weeks time.

Bulverde will take on Texas Instruments Inc.'s (NYSE: TXN) OMAP chipset in the smartphone and PDA market. Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT) is already working on a cellular-WLAN handset using the TI chipset (see Motorola Plots WLAN VOIP Move).

The Bulverde is intended to be used as part of a chipset design. "You'll still need the radio components, but Bulverde will do all the number crunching in the background," says Miller.

Intel has also included a trick or two from its laptop processors on the phone chip, notably the SpeedStep power-saving technology, which switches the chip between maximum performance and battery conservation modes, depending on the application.

By the way, Bulverde is named after a small town in Texas. The design team decides the codename, apparently.

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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