UK threesome ARM for Wireless 3D

Games and stuff

ComputerWire: IT Industry Intelligence

Three British technology companies have joined forces to create a complete 3D multimedia platform for mobile devices. The tie-up marks a further effort by Cambridge, UK-based ARM Holdings Plc, the provider of the core processor technology in the venture, to preserve its position as the wireless silicon vendor. It could also help bring some much needed standardization to wireless 3D content.

The other two partners in the venture are Kings Langley, UK-based multimedia chip developer Imagination Technologies Group Plc and Hook, UK-based 3D rendering software and tools vendor Superscape Plc.

Both companies have previously worked with ARM to optimize their products for use with ARM core-based chips - Imagination's PowerVR graphics acceleration core for low powered devices and Superscape's Swerve platform for enhanced bandwidth utilization.

The new project ties all three together for the first time to create a highly optimized environment for running complex interactive 3D games and services on wireless devices at similar speeds and definition to games consoles and PCs.

Steve Evans, VP segment marketing at ARM, believes the arrangement will provide a much-needed common API for developers of wireless 3D content, which so far lacks the standardization of other mobile media technologies such as video streaming.

More pertinently for Imagination and Superscape, ARM's near monopoly on handset and wireless PDA chipsets (estimates suggest that ARM-derived chips could power as much as 80% of the world's mobile handsets) should help guarantee their futures. Evans said that none of ARM's OEM partners have yet committed to use the platform although discussions are well advanced with several companies.

The partnership is the latest step taken by ARM over the last year to protect its position as the mobile chip architecture of choice. During this period it has, for example, added technology components such as its Jazelle mobile Java (J2ME) acceleration technology. It has also signed important new licenses with companies such as Sanyo, Mitsubishi Electric, Intel and Texas Instruments.

Evans said handsets using Superscape's software are likely to hit the market in the first half of 2003, with devices using both Superscape and Imagination technologies will follow on in the second half of the year.

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