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A little something on the side?

The time has come to divide and conquer. By Philip Ling.

Flying in the face of fashion, at least semiconductor fashion, it is now apparent that a separate and dedicated processor, an applications processor no less, will be responsible for the functionality within small and portable devices.

This really is a significant development, not only because it is rare for a new class of processor to appear on the market, but also because it appears to be a reversal of the integration trend. In fact, it could be thought of in two ways, that the tasks (applications) are being removed from the host processor, or that the dedicated hardware used for user interfaces is being 'upgraded' to include its own embedded processor.

It isn't uncommon for several processors to exist in the same device. Today's mobile handsets feature a dsp and a host processor, but even that isn't enough horsepower to handle the kind of media rich features planned for tomorrow's handsets.

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Graham Pitcher

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