Sierra adds 3G to Intel's new ultra mobile PC platform

Sierra Wireless Inc. will provide embedded wide-area wireless modules to a new Intel Corp. ultra mobile PC (UMPC) platform that will enable devices to hook up to 3G (third generation) wireless telecommunications, creating a new way to use a UMPC.

Until now, UMPCs from most companies, including Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. and Asustek Computer Inc., have included two wireless functions, WLAN (wireless LAN) for wireless Internet connections in a home, office, or other location near a Wi-Fi hot spot, and Bluetooth. Few other UMPCs, save Sony Corp.'s Vaio VGN-UX50, which offers Cingular EDGE (Enhanced Data GSM Environment) WAN capabilities, provide a way to connect to the Internet away from civilization.

The wireless modules from Sierra, a Vancouver, British Columbia chip designer, will allow users to remain connected far out in the field, and lead to the development of many innovative, new UMPC devices, the company said.

Intel plans to make its ultra mobile PC chip kit available in the first half of next year, the company said at the Intel Developer Forum, which ended Thursday. The company said the microprocessors in the platform will consume just half the power of ones used in current UMPCs, and will be 25 percent smaller. The chip kit is designed to allow developers to make smaller, cooler running UMPCs with longer battery life and new possible uses, Intel said.

The UMPC, code-named Origami earlier this year, is a new breed of handheld device promoted by Microsoft Corp. and Intel aimed at users requiring more PC-like functions and larger screens in a carry-around device. It falls somewhere between a tablet PC and a PDA in size, and runs on the Windows XP Tablet Edition OS.

One of the first such devices was viewed by users at the Cebit electronics show in Germany early this year, Samsung's Q1. The device was running on a 900MHz Intel Corp. Celeron microprocessor and boasted 500M bytes of RAM.

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