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SiRF launches tiny fast-fix satnav chip

Wider range of GPS gadgets en route, claims firm

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GPS chip maker SiRF has hinted that a wider variety of location-aware gadgets could find their way to market next year, following the firm’s launch of its latest satnav pick-up.

SiRF unveiled the Star IV platform back in July, with the GSD4t chip - intended for use in smartphones – becoming one of the first products to make use of the new technology.

But Kanwar Chadha, co-founder of SiRF Technology and now Director of Marketing at Cambridge Silicon Radio, which merged with SiRF earlier this year, told Register Hardware that its newest Star IV chip, the GSD4e, can be used in camcorders, compact cameras and games consoles.

He also claimed the chip could result in GPS-enabled watches able to log the location of your car as you park it.

SiRF's Star III platfrom is incorporated into almost every mobile device that includes GPS functionality.

The GSD4e’s reduced impact on a gadget’s battery life is the main reason that manufacturers will look to produce a wider variety of GPS-enabled products next year, Chadha claimed.

Like the GSD4t, the GSD4e can go into a standby mode for long periods of time to minimise battery drain. However, the GSD4e goes one step further by incorporating a “micro power mode” which ensures that only relevant sectors of the receiver are kept powered on.

SiRF claimed that the new chip can make a location fix almost instantly, although Chadha admitted that faster fixes aren’t as accurate as those provided by slower satnavs. The GSD4e’s fast-fix accuracy could be out by between 0.3 and three miles, he said.

Chadha wouldn’t say which gadget manufacturers are planning to build the GSD4e into their products, if any. But he claimed that during the “first half of 2010 there will be products coming out that use our chip”.

He also said that indoor and outdoor-based augmented reality videogames is another area where the GSD4e has the potential to improve the gaming experience. ®

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