Today's wireless-system engineers are often left dealing with contradictory requirements. They must minimize device size, add functionality, and decrease battery life. At the same time, they need more silicon real estate.
Intel Corp. thinks it may have just the solution for these divergent requirements: a single-chip cellular processor that utilizes the company's advanced Wireless-Internet-on-a-Chip technology (see figure). Fabricated using 0.13-µm Flash and Logic process technology, this microchip effectively integrates computing, memory, and communications functions. It combines the key components of today's cellular phones and handheld computers on a single piece of silicon. For cell-phone manufacturers, the microchip makes it possible to incorporate more innovative phone designs in mainstream cell phones.
At the heart of Intel's PXA800F Cellular Processor is an XScale-microarchitecture-based high-performance, low-power processor. This processor runs at 312 MHz with 4 MB of integrated Intel OnChip Flash memory and 512 kB of SRAM for application performance. The Intel PXA800F Cellular Processor also boasts a 104-MHz signal processor. That signal processor uses the Intel Micro Signal architecture (MSA) with 512 kB of integrated Intel OnChip Flash memory and 64 kB of SRAM. All of these components culminate in a complete system-on-a-single-chip for advanced GSM/GPRS cellular networks.
Among the additional characteristics of the PXA800F Cellular Processor are integrated power-management capabilities and an impressive list of peripherals. They include, for example, integrated USB; SD/MMC/MS; LCD; IrDA; Bluetooth I/F; and Camera I/F.
The PXA800F packs plenty of performance headroom. Its XScale core can run all applications. Such performance translates into continuous GPRS data (Class B) with the Intel MSA running L1 and the XScale core running L2 and L3. The estimate for L2/L3 is 14 MIPS.
The Cellular Processor also enables high performance levels for mainstream phone applications. And thanks to its memory, code is executed in place (XIP) with all critical code maintained on chip. OnChip Flash works to reduce latency issues for memory-sensitive applications.
This memory flaunts an impressive low-power capability. In fact, Intel's OnChip Flash uses less power than separate memory components. Because all on-chip memory is required to contain the GSM/GPRS protocol stack, RTOS, and Java virtual machine (JVM), significant space savings also can be realized. The overall processor space savings would equal a third of the board space.
When these benefits couple with the Cellular Processor's high performance, the result is an enhanced consumer and application experience. It also works to accelerate Java. The bottom line is higher revenue potential for carriers.
Samples of the PXA800F are now available. Production volumes will be available in the third quarter of this year. It will sell for roughly $35 (U.S. dollars) in 10,000-unit quantities.
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