Intel has announced that it is close to releasing a new version of the XScale PXA250 processor that is at the heart of many handhelds. Though the clock speeds of the chips won’t be higher than current chips, an increase in the bus speed should provide users with a noticeable speed increase. In addition, these chips should use less battery power.
Intel hasn’t released a name for these new processors. At this point, they are simply referred to as PXA250 C1, which is an Intel’s manufacturing designation. A formal marketing name will be announced before the end of March.
The initial versions of PXA250 C1 will run at 200MHz, 300MHz, and 400MHz, the same speeds the current versions do. However, C1 will include a 200MHz memory bus, as opposed to the 100MHz one being used now.
Experts agree that one of the main reasons XScale processors frequently don’t perform significantly better than StrongARM processors in real-world use is they are limited by their bus speed, which should be much higher than it is. The increase in the C1’s bus speed should noticeably improve the performance of the handhelds, more than an increase in clock speed would, in fact.
While the C1 is similar enough to the current models that it is a drop-in replacement, it does require a new ID Register. This means current users of handhelds won’t be able to easily switch out processors.
Samples of the PXA250 C1 processors were sent to manufacturers in December. Intel says costomers could begin recieving the new chips in quantity as early as February 10. Handheld makers must switch to the new chips by March 28. The new chips will cost the same as the current ones.
The PXA250 processor is used by most handhelds running Pocket PC that have been released within the last year. This includes the Dell Axim X5, HP iPAQ h1910, and many more. It’s also used by all of Sony’s Palm OS 5 models.
Thanks to Pocket PC Thoughts for their help with this article.