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MS pitches twin controller approach for mobile devices

Not more expensive, honest. We don't know why either...

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One of the problems CE (and indeed, numerous other operating systems) faces in penetrating the mobile and appliance markets is that it's not fully real time, although the hardware generally doesn't take too kindly to software chiming in demanding CPU time when inappropriate. But Microsoft may have found an interesting workaround - one that also reduces the chances of your phone handset getting the Blue Screen of Death. According to Kevin Dallas, group product manager with Microsoft, at least two foundries are set to introduce silicon with dual on-board controllers aimed at mobile handset manufacturers. The pair are Philips and Wavecom. Dallas' contention is that a dual controller approach enables the call handling functions and data functions to be separated. This would mean that if a problem with a handset's WAP browser developed, for example, the user would still be able to make and receive telephone calls in the normal manner. It also means the data OS doesn't chime in and maim that important phone call, right? While dual controllers would enable a manufacturers to run two different o/s within the same handset, it would also make it easier for Microsoft to push its browser, Mobile Explorer, since any bugs wouldn't necessarily stop the entire handset from working. Part of Microsoft's strategy for the mobile phone market involves offering Mobile Explorer on multiple platforms and here, obviously, lie porting dragons. Dallas was adamant that a dual controller approach wouldn't result in lower talk time or standby times in the handset. However, The Register wasn't convinced by Dallas' opinion that such chips wouldn't raise the component costs of a handset. In fact, French manufacturer Wavecom announced an all-in-one chip - the Wismo3 - at the recent GSM World Conference in Cannes. The Wismo has squeezed virtually everything you'd expect from a GSM phone onto one piece of silicon. Functions include a dual band (900/1800 MHz) capability and GSM Phase 2+ compliance, standard voice facilities, plus SMS. On the data side, Wavecom claims to offer full fax and data facilities which include support for the SIM application toolkit and WAP. However, Wavecom even claims the Wismo3 offers onboard GPRS (packet data) support at a time when the leading handset vendors are struggling to offer the first such models. ®

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