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RIM picks Intel for next-gen Blackberry

Hermon to bring 3G, EGDE, Wi-Fi to email devices

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Research in Motion's future Blackberries will be based on Intel processors, the push email company said yesterday.

It will be using the chip giant's XScale PXA9xx mobile phone processor, the successor to its current PXA800 "cellular processor" family.

Codenamed 'Hermon', the new chip will add EDGE technology to boost the data transmission rate beyond that provided by the current generation of the chip.

Hermon was formally unveiled at Intel's Spring Developer Forum in March this year. Then, it was scheduled to ship toward the end of the year.

It is also expected to support video conferencing, which suggests 3G support. Indeed, at the Summer IDF, the part was described by Intel Mobility chief Sean Maloney as "our base-band UMTS chipset", so clearly the family will provide more connectivity than GSM/GPRS/EDGE. Past reports suggest it will also incorporate Wi-Fi support.

RIM and Intel were expected to make the announcement at IDF last month. It was claimed RIM would back Intel's WiMAX push, but there was no mention of that yesterday.

But it provides a clue why RIM may have selected the part. Ironically, while it may have its eye on Hermon's faster networking capabilities, all that increased bandwidth will, in part, reduce the need for RIM's email solution. When bandwidth becomes less constrained than is the case with GPRS, the need to store and forward messages becomes less necessary - devices can simply poll servers regularly and download messages at that time.

Of course, per-byte network tariffs may necessitate push's traffic reducing approach for a little while yet - the less data you send, the less you pay - but unlimited data tariffs are already becoming more commonplace.

That leaves RIM's business focusing even less on software than it is today - two-thirds of its revenue comes from hardware - and competing even more aggressively with the Nokias, Palms and HTCs of this world. ®

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