Dual processor 3G phones in shops within a year

NEC and Matsushita have announced plans to use two microprocessors in 3G telephone handsets that are expected to be available...

NEC and Matsushita have announced plans to use two microprocessors in 3G telephone handsets that are expected to be available within the next 12 months.

Under the architecture unveiled by two Matsushita companies and NEC, one processor, the C-CPU, will be used to handle communication protocols while the other, the A-CPU, will be used to run applications such as wireless Internet browsing, video conferencing and phone book management.

NEC has already embraced the idea and is using two processors in its handsets for NTT DoCoMo's 3G W-CDMA (Wideband Code Division Multiple Access) network that began commercial service in October 2001. The company's N2001 and N2002 handsets use Intel 's StrongArm as the application processor and one of NEC's VR series chips as the communications processor and are based on a basic version of Matsushita and NEC's architecture.

The platform will be offered to companies that do not possess the technology to design their own 3G mobile phones. The separation of processor functions will help these customers differentiate their products because the finished platform will enable designers to chose from a number of different brands of processor for each CPU. At present, Agere Systems and Texas Instruments are working with Matsushita and NEC on prototypes.

The outline architecture is the result of six months of work between the three companies, which are Japan's top mobile handset makers. In August last year they announced plans to work together on the design and development of 3G handsets, partly in an attempt to replicate overseas the success they have enjoyed in the domestic market.

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