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New Mobile Chips Are Ready To Support Next-Gen Phones

Chip makers Qualcomm and Broadcom show off new chips to support business apps, multimedia, and Web browsing on the next generation of mobile devices.

In addition to high-speed wireless networks, the next generation of mobile devices requires powerful hardware to handle business applications, multimedia such as music and video, and Web browsing. Chip makers Qualcomm and Broadcom this week at CES showed off their latest technology designed to be embedded in such devices.

Qualcomm's latest family of chipsets called Snapdragon will add expanded functionality to future generations of consumer electronics, including gaming and portable entertainment devices, pocket computers, and smartphones.

At the core of Snapdragon is Qualcomm's Scorpion 1-GHz microprocessor, intended to improve the performance of mobile devices and reduce power consumption. Scorpion is paired with a 128-bit multiple-data capability and Qualcomm's 600-MHz digital signal processor to handle various multimedia applications.

Snapdragon supports a variety of 3G cellular technologies, including EV-DO, deployed by Sprint and Verizon Wireless in the United States, and UMTS/HSDPA, deployed by Cingular, as well as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. "Our goal is to bridge the gap between mobile phones and laptops," says Alex Katouzian, Qualcomm's VP of product management.

Samsung Electronics was among the first mobile device manufacturers to strike a deal with Qualcomm for embedding Snapdragon chips in future devices. Snapdragon-based chipsets will begin sampling in the third quarter.

Meanwhile, Broadcom is working with manufacturers to get its latest chipset inside mobile devices. The company last year unveiled its single-chip HSDPA processor, which is capable of connecting mobile users to the Web at 7 Mbps. It also comes with advanced digital signal processing and multimedia functionality for recording and playback of video and audio, and a high-performance applications processor.

Mobile devices with such capabilities aren't far from reality. "Carriers have already built out the networks to support them, and costs for these devices will drop, putting them in the hands of many more people," says Robert Nalesnik, senior director of marketing at Broadcom's mobile communications business unit.

Broadcom recently finished testing the chip with Alcatel-Lucent, which supplies service providers with fixed, mobile, and broadband networking systems. Commercial launch is expected in the second half of this year.

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