Intel to run with Marathon mobile graphics chip

Next-gen. XScale too

Intel will offer its handheld graphics chip, currently codenamed Carbonado, as Marathon when the part is officially launched next month in Taiwan.

The launch, to be made during the local Intel Developer Forum, will also see Bulverde, Intel's next generation of Xscale processor, make its formal debut.

Marathon - the only graphics chip we know to be named after a Mac-based first-person shoot-'em-up game - will render just under one million polygons per second, less than the three million polys per second touted by Intel Communications Group chief Sean Maloney at February's San Francisco IDF.

The new chip will also support both MPEG 2 and MPEG 4, and WIndows Media. It can handle video resolutions of 640 x 480 or higher. It consumes up to 100mW of power.

Intel is pitching the part at high-end PDAs. In the future, the core may be integrated into mobile phone-oriented XScales. The chip giant's roadmap calls for a second-generation Marathon that provides H.264 video support and an interface to 1in hard drives. Along the way, the chip family will pick up 802.11 and GPS support.

Intel is already working with more some 20 games developers to create Marathon-compatible titles using the OpenGL ES API.

Marathon is believed to be based on Imagination Technologies' PowerVR MBX core, which Intel licensed in 2002. Texas Instruments will be using PowerVR MBX in its upcoming OMAP 2 platform, a rival ARM-based mobile processor to Intel's XScale and Bulverde in particular.

Unveiled last September, Bulverde will incorporate the MMX multimedia instructions that debuted on the Pentium platform in the 1990s. Another technology borrowed from the Pentium, this time the mobile side of the family, is the SpeedStep power conservation system. This can reduce XScale power consumption by 50 per cent, Intel claims. Bulverde also integrates four-megapixel digicam support and real-time video encoding. ®

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