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Intel readies x86 system-on-a-chip as XScale successor

Pentium M for phones?

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Intel's plan to develop an x86-based system-on-a-chip line is well known - we reported on it way back in August 2005, for instance - but only now are details of the XScale replacement starting to emerge as the chip giant briefs potential customers.

The part's codenamed 'Tolapai' and is based on the 32-bit Pentium M processing core. Add to that 256KB of L2 cache, an DDR 2 SDRAM controller - 400-800MHz memory supported - and an integrated South Bridge component that provides PCI Express connectivity, USB, SATA, Gigabit Ethernet, a cellular link and even RS-232, and you've got a list of the key functionality the SoC offers. The chip will have security algorithm acceleration hardwired in.

Presentation slides published by Chinese-language site HKEPC point to 600, 1,066 and 1,200MHz clock speeds and a power consumption of 22W or less.

Intel will pitch the part at embedded applications, but it could make its way into mobile devices such as PDA phones. The company has the goal of producing a processor for handhelds that's capable of running Windows Vista and delivering a decent battery life, and Tolapai is clearly a step in that direction. Last year, Intel CEO Paul Otellini accelerated the timeframe for the delivery of such a CPU from 2010 to 2008. Tolapai's apparently due before the end of 2007, Far Eastern moles allege.

Tolapai also part of Intel's plan to spread the x86 instruction set across the range of computing devices, from handhelds up to servers. This plan is one reason why Intel sold its popular ARM-based XScale processor product line to Marvell last year.

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