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More Cores For Handheld Devices

As smart phones and PDAs take on a larger role as crucial business tools, they're likely to tap into the power of multicore processors over the next year. -- Sidebar to: The New Power Equation
As smart phones and PDAs take on a larger role as crucial business tools, they're likely to tap into the power of multicore processors over the next year.

ARM Holdings plc, the leading supplier of processor technology used in cellular telephones, is now licensing the ARM11 MPCore, which can be configured to contain from one to four processor elements in a single chip.

"In the mobile space, we have no opportunity to produce chips that run at 2 GHz or 3 GHz, so the ability to have multiple cores running at a very low clock speed is a major benefit," says James Bruce, North American segment manager for wireless technology at ARM.

NEC Electronics Corp. and nVidia Corp. have licensed the MPCore, and handheld computing devices using the technology are expected as early as 2006, Bruce says.

Business users are increasingly using handheld computing devices to read and respond to demanding applications such as PowerPoint and Excel, which traditionally haven't performed well on single-core processing platforms in cell phones and PDAs. The use of multiple computing cores would allow for increased performance on multiple applications without increasing the drain on batteries. Makers of handheld computing devices also could produce a multitiered product portfolio while using a single processor platform.

The MPCore also integrates ARM's intelligent-energy manager, which allows the various cores to be turned on and off automatically as demand requires, Bruce says, optimizing battery life.

Return to the story: The New Power Equation