In late January, Intel announced that it was going to release a modified version of the XScale chip that is used in many handhelds. The PXA255, as the new processor is named, has a faster bus speed than the previous one, the PXA250. Since this announcement, many have wondered if users will see a significant speed increase.
The initial versions of PXA255 will run at 200 MHz, 300 MHz, and 400 MHz, the same speeds the current versions do. However, the PXA255 will include a 200 MHz memory bus, as opposed to the 100 MHz one being used now.
No handhelds have been released yet that run the new PXA255 but developers have them and have been running tests. The PocketTV team has posted the results of their tests in the Brighthand Forums and, according to them, “the new devices that will be using 300 MHz PXA255 should be about 20% faster than the current 400 MHz XScale devices, with a better battery time.”
They used their own app, PocketTV, as a benchmark as it involves a lot of CPU calculations and read/write memory accesses. They were able to play a 320 by 240 video at 24 frames per second together with high quality stereo audio.
Intel is going to stop producing the PXA250 soon, if it hasn’t already. Handheld makers must switch to the new chips by March 28. The new chips will cost the same as the current ones.
While the PXA255 is similar enough to the current chip that it is a drop-in replacement for manufacturers, it does require a new ID Register. This means current users of handhelds won’t be able to easily switch out processors.