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Psion produces surprise ARM plus, gets GSM phone tech

Motorola deal reveals Psion silicon operation

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Updated Just a month after their last development agreement Psion and Motorola have signed a cross-licensing deal. And this time, Psion is going silicon - the Psion half of the deal includes a "next generation processor." This is quite possibly one of the largest rabbits Psion has ever pulled out of its corporate hat. Also one of the most satirical, given that Halla is a very strange name for a processor. Psion must be hoping that NatSemi system on chip evangelist Brian Halla has a better sense of humour than some of the gurus Apple has crossed codenames with in the past. The Psion announcement is sketchy on precisely what Halla is, but sources tell us it's an ARM9 with extra peripherals, including IrDA, USB and DMA. It's being fabbed by Samsung at 0.25 micron, and will tape out in the next few months. Dublin-based SSL is designing some of the peripherals and integrating existing blocks. Depending on how good and unique Hall's design is, it prosably means that Psion has got something the generality of Symbian shareholders and licensees have not got (cue gnashing of teeth in Scandinavia), and fancies some of that ARM stock momentum. In addition to its own, of course. It's also a reminder that Psion itself is rather different from the other Symbian partners in that it has a lot of ARM integration experience. Motorola's role as Psion's new special friend involves giving Psion a licence to its triple-band GSM cellular communication module, which means that Psion has decent wireless technology at last, and can therefore build phones. Psion licences Big M Halla, which means that once Motorola's developers have stopped phoning up NatSemi and giggling they can build killer ARM-based wireless PDAs and communicators. Halla, according to Psion "is designed to optimise the performance of products based on Symbian's EPOC technology platform. The processor is designed for low power applications but can operate at speeds of up to 200 MHz. Halla is notable as being among the fastest, lowest-power and smallest-footprint processors in its class." ®

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