Intel ready to roll with StrongARM Web pad 'idea'?
Mysteriously, IAL says the 'concept' will have a reference design this month
The 'just an idea' nature of Intel's WebPAD competitor (Earlier story) seems somewhat flexible. Our earlier spokesman no doubt failed to remember Intel Architecture Labs (IAL) director of marketing Ed Arrington promising to unveil a reference design for the very same "concept" later this month. Such a cunning plan would give Intel the opportunity to sell WebPAD-style designs to OEMs this summer, with a view to shipping next spring. Besides spring shipment being another thing the helpful Mr. Arrington has been saying, the schedule means Intel could use the reference design to undermine NatSemi's WebPAD, due later this year. Intel's concept is certainly advanced enough for it to have had 43 pieces of hardware available for the Portland trial we mentioned earlier, but it's also quite possible that Intel has a complete reference design ready to roll. A StrongARM reference design. One of Intel's StrongARM partners is by a happy coincidence a company that's already shown a prototype StrongARM-based WebPAD-like device. Anigma, Inc., a small motherboard design operation, unveiled the WebMan, at CES earlier this year, and since then has been strangely quiet. WebMan uses a high-speed wireless connection via an adapter to a base station or PC to link to the Internet via 56k, ISDN or DSL. It's CE-based, and uses a Spyglass browser. Anigma itself lists Intel as one of its customers, while Intel itself seems to be preannouncing Anigma's products for it. We quote from Intel's Web site: "The Anigma WebMan and WebSlate, both designed around the Intel StrongARM processor..." Both? Although Anigma has announced WebMan, so far it hasn't said a thing about anything called WebSlate. But it does sound like it might be a slimmed-down, cheaper version, right? Anigma doesn't manufacture, but offers its designs to the OEM market, hence the Intel connection. Intel, meanwhile, has been getting into the habit of making equity investments in small operations, some of whom produce reference designs (e.g. NCD's thin client reference design) which Intel can then evangelise. So an investment, a swift WebSlate reference design and product announcement, and much annoyance at NatSemi? Could happen... Other Intel moves and shakes might also have a bearing on the imminence of a reference design. The company put some money into wireless LAN outfit Proxim a while back, and a few weeks ago one of those interesting Intel initiatives, the Anywhere in the Home Initiative, seems to have quietly appeared. As Intel seems to have screwed-up posting the demo video we can't tell you much about it, but it's one of IAL's babies, and may or may not replace an earlier one, the Connected.Home Initiative. Also worth putting into the pot for a stir is the fact that the helpful Mr. Arrington is Intel's point man for the HomeAPI group. HomeAPI is of course concerned with wireless networking standards in the home. We haven't worked in a Bluetooth connection yet, but we're sure there has to be one... ® Related Stories: Cyrix shows WebPAD off Cyrix demos $300 Web tablet
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