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Qualcomm pitches 'PC alternative' nettop, netbook reference design

Kayak is Atom alternative too

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It's not just ARM that wants a piece of Intel's Atom action - Qualcomm does to. It's launched a "new PC alternative" reference design based on its 3G technology in a bid to win over netbook makers.

Dubbed Kayak, the system is based on Qualcomm's Mobile Station Modem (MSM) 7000-series chipsets, but the company said it may switch to its Snapdragon platform in the future.

Either way, Kayak is designed to run Opera's web browser, which will form the basis of the machine's application software - Qualcomm has a classic cloud concept in mind, at least for productivity apps.

It also said Kayak will play music and provide "3D gaming console functionality", suggesting audio portage and a half-decent graphics chip. Kayak will be compatible with "a standard keyboard and mouse for input", so it'll support USB if nothing else. The machine can be connected to a TV or monitor, but the reference plans include a version with a built-in display too.

Qualcomm today took the wraps off its latest Snapdragon, the QSD8672, a system-on-a-chip that packs in a pair of 1.5GHz processor cores and cores for 3G connectivity, 1080p HD recording and playback, GPS, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, mobile digital TV reception, and 2D and 3D graphics at up to 1440 x 900 resolution.

Qualcomm said the first Kayaks will be made by Taiwanese contract manufacturer Inventec. They'll ship in Q1 2009, inititally for "user trials", which to us suggests limited numbers while Qualcomm tries its designs out. It's pitching Kayak at the developing world - OLPC territory, in other words. The QSD8672 will sample in H2 2009.

Bootnote
Qualcomm should tread carefully lest managers at the mighty HP recall they once offered a PC under the Kayak brand. Wouldn't it be ironic if the litigous Qualcomm found itself on the receiving end of a legal complaint for a change?

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