Freescale, E Ink Enter Deal On eBook Technology

Freescale will develop a system-on-a-chip for E Ink's electronic paper displays, used in e-book readers.
Freescale Semiconductor will develop a system-on-a-chip that integrates a Freescale ARM-based processor with E Ink's electronic paper display technology, used in e-book readers.

Freescale is hoping the deal will give it a big boost in the emerging e-book reader market, which Forrester Research predicts could grow from 3 million units this year to more than 6 million in 2010. E Ink's technology is used in most e-readers today, including market leader Amazon's Kindle.

Under the deal announced Tuesday, Freescale plans to build an SoC that integrates its i.MX applications processor with E Ink's electronic paper display controller. Freescale's i.MX is used in consumer electronics such as e-readers, portable media players, and personal navigation devices.

Freescale and other chip makers have been promoting "smartbooks," a Web browsing mini-computer that fits in size between a smartphone and a netbook. The devices, however, have been met with skepticism by some analysts.

Freescale announced the latest agreement as it cuts jobs to realign its business in light of weak sales during the economic downturn. The company told The Austin American-Statesman Wednesday that it cut had cut an undisclosed number of jobs at its Austin headquarters and other locations.

Freescale's said earlier this year that it would slash up to 20% of its workforce, or about 4,800 jobs, the American-Statesman reported. Some of the cuts stemmed from Freescale's decision to exit the business of designing chips for mobile phones.

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