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Intel targets three processors for embedded market

Posted: 09 Jun 2004 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:intel? embedded processor? computex taipei 2004? pentium m 745? celeron m?

Intel Corp. unveiled three new embedded processors, just weeks after rolling out the nonembedded versions of the same processors.

The three new embedded products, introduced at Computex Taipei 2004 in Taiwan, include the Pentium M 745, the Celeron M for telecommunications and the PXA270 for embedded. The company said the M 745 will be targeted at point-of-sale terminals and industrial computing, while the Celeron M will be aimed at wireless and wireline infrastructure. The PXA270 will serve in graphics-rich applications such as personal media players and navigation devices.

The product introduction follows the rollout of families of Pentium M and PXA27x processors on May 10 and April 12, respectively. The Pentium M was aimed at wireless applications in notebook and laptop PCs, while the PXA27x was targeted at cellphones and PDAs.

The three new processors are targeted at more deeply embedded applications, which have traditionally lagged seven or eight months behind their desktop, server or mobile counterparts.

Industry analysts said the processors' quick transformation to the embedded world is partially an acknowledgement of the importance of the embedded market by chip makers such as Intel, and partially a matter of pragmatism.

"With processors like the Pentium M, it's easy to make the change," noted Eric Gulliksen, project director for Venture Development Corp., an industry analyst. "It only takes a matter of weeks because it's inherently designed to be partitioned."

Gulliksen said the inherent partitioning in processors such as the Pentium M make them strong candidates for embedded applications because partitioning enables prescribed parts of the processors to be shut down when they are not needed, thus cutting power consumption.

Intel executives said Intel has made a commitment to design its embedded processors in parallel with its other processors because customers have demanded it.

"Over the past two to three years, we have changed our philosophy from trailing the PC market to being in lock-step with it," said Ton Steenman, general manager of the Embedded Intel Architecture Division. "We found that designers had a need to intercept the technology much earlier."

Steenman cited the point-of-sale market as one that has aggressively pursued state-of-the-art processor technology. There, he said, designers were particularly intent on eliminating the lag time between PC and embedded markets.

Steenman pointed to three key areas that need to be addressed in order to bring PC and server processors to the embedded market. Embedded customers, he said, need evaluation and support boards, OS environments that support the new architecture and advance word on what embedded processor Intel will support and for how long.

"Embedded customers can't design with a Pentium processor until we say we will support it for a five- to seven-year time horizon," Steenman said.

Intel said its three new embedded processors will fill a variety of embedded applications. The Pentium M 745 is designed for use in AdvancedTCA boards, as well as POS and industrial applications. The Celeron M is targeted at small form-factor designs that don't require cooling fans. The PXA270 will support 3D game graphics, full-motion video and cameras that require mega-pixel image quality.

- Charles Murray

EE Times





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