Intel Confirms OQO to Use Atom in Handheld PC

Intel on Wednesday confirmed that its Atom chips will be used in an upcoming handheld computer from OQO, a significant design win for the chip maker.

The handheld computer that includes Intel's Atom chip could be the new OQO device shown off by Intel executives on stage at the Intel Developer Forum being held in San Francisco. The model bears resemblance to OQO's current handheld computer, Model 02, which uses Via's C7-M low-power processor and includes 1G byte of RAM.

OQO has received accolades for the Model 02 design, which can deliver full PC performance in a tiny footprint. The computer weighs only 1 pound (0.45 kilograms).

The new OQO handheld will include Atom Z-series processors built for mobile Internet devices, said Pankaj Kedia, director of global ecosystem programs for mobile Internet devices at Intel. The Z-series single-core processors run between 800MHz and 1.86GHz. Intel also makes a version of the Atom processor for low-cost laptops and desktops.

This is a big design win for Intel, which has already shipped its Atom chips in MIDs from vendors including Aigo, Sharp and Lenovo. The win means Intel could take a major customer away from rival Via, with which it competes in the mobile and low-cost PC space. The battle could intensify when Via starts shipping its next-generation Nano processor, which will compete with Atom.

The future of OQO's Via-based product line was not immediately clear.

After a snapshot of the new OQO handheld with an Atom chip surfaced on UMPC Portal, a mobile-computing blog, rumors swirled that the mobile PC maker would use the chip in a future device. However, OQO's CEO Dennis Moore dodged the rumor, saying the device was just a prototype, not a product announcement.

Though OQO has not officially launched the handheld computer, Kedia said the OQO device at IDF implies availability on a certain date. Kedia indicated OQO was expressing future preference for Intel processors, but didn't comment on whether OQO devices would shift to Intel for its current products, including Model 02.

"You will find them move from Via to Atom over the foreseeable future," Kedia said.

An OQO official did not immediately respond to request for comment.

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