IDF JAPAN: Intel updates mobile technology work

Intel Corp. announced few surprises at its Intel Developer Forum Japan event on Thursday, instead choosing to give the Japanese audience a look at several technologies first disclosed at a U.S. event in February.

Despite the lack of surprises, the company did announce several updates on its technology work, mainly in the mobile sector.

In the flash memory sector, an area where Intel is very strong, the company announced development of an improved memory packaging technique that allows it to stack as many as five flash memory chips in a single package 1.2 millimeters thick. Until now the company's most advanced package could accommodate four memory chips.

Stacking chips one on top of the other in a single package benefits mobile equipment makers because it allows them to pack more memory storage into a device and thus keep the size of their products small. A more advanced version of the company's Ultra-Thin Stack Chip-Scale Packaging technology is predicted to reduce the thickness of a five-chip package to 1 millimeter sometime next year.

Looking ahead, Intel showed a prototype memory package that includes eight chips. The chips are fabricated on a film rather than a rigid die to make them thinner, so they can all fit in. Intel declined to specify when such a chip might become a commercial product.

In other future plans, the company disclosed a few details of an upcoming XScale processor. The processor, which was not named, will cut by half the amount of power consumed in idle mode and current consumed in sleep mode, said Darin Billerbeck, vice president of Intel's wireless communications and computing group. It will also outperform the existing PXA26x processor, but Billerbeck declined to provide any additional information on when it will be available.

Intel also provided a slightly more specific target for delivering technology to enable what it calls "always on" computing and demonstrated a prototype notebook concept platform based on the technology called "Newport." The Newport PC has a small monochrome secondary LCD (liquid crystal display) that enables the user to receive instant messages, check e-mail and perform other similar tasks while the main PC is switched off.

The system uses the main processor and operating system and keeps the machine running in a very low power mode, said Anand Chandrasekher, Intel's vice president and co-general manager of the mobile platforms group. At its Spring IDF in the U.S., the company said it was targeting next year for the technology and on Thursday gave the more specific target of the third calendar quarter of 2004.

Tom Krazit in Boston contributed to this story.

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