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Intel talks 4G/next-gen mobile phone chips

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Intel has indicated that its wireless Internet on a chip could be available in as little as a year.

As previously reported, Intel yesterday announced the development of an experimental chip that features a microprocessor, flash memory and analogue communications circuits on a single slab of silicon.

According to Chipzilla, the technology, which will be developed in a family of chips, could be five times as powerful as those used in today's mobile phones, operate at speeds of up to 1GHz and provide "up to a month of battery life" (which sounds more than a tad optimistic).

Leif Persson, director of Intel's wireless competency centre, described that the chips are based on its XScale processor - the first iteration of StrongARM technology Intel acquired from Intel. He added the chips would be available "within a year or so" and will feature super pipelining, for faster execution, and multimedia capabilities.

The chips are targeted at next generation mobile phones and handhelds. Persson said these devices could be based on Linux, Microsoft's Pocket PC or Symbian's Epoc operating system.

Asked whether given this agnosticism to operating systems, Intel demos at its developer conference this week had almost exclusively featured Compaq iPaqs he said, "Epoc devices are not easy to get hold of".

We're not sure whether this is a disguised blagging request but since Symbian was a co-sponsor of the conference we're sure Leif won't find it too hard to get some kit if he really needed it.

Maybe he's got better things on his mind. Though years away, Intel is already putting thought into what may feature in 4G telecommunications devices. Persson, who readily agreed the industry was still very much grappling with 3G (which after all hasn't arrived yet), did have a couple of interesting ideas about the features of 4G devices (though he hates the term).

These include the ability to automatically move from a wireless Lan to a public network in order to access the Internet, and embedded Bluetooth support. ®

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