AMD Updates PDA Plans

Advanced Micro Devices has begun showing an updated reference design for a personal digital assistant running the Linux operating system to hardware makers, according to a company executive.

The announcement brings the reference design one step closer to availability as a commercial product.

Based on AMD's 400-MHz Alchemy 1100 processor, an early prototype of the PDA reference design was demonstrated in August by the company at the LinuxWorld Conference & Expo in San Francisco.

Since then, AMD has advanced the prototype's design with the addition of full-screen video capabilities and has completed work on the device's battery charger, said Phil Pompa, vice president of marketing for AMD's Personal Connectivity Solutions group, in an interview on the sidelines of the Computex exhibition in Taipei last week.

"It's certainly at the point where we can go hand to this to an OEM," Pompa said, adding that AMD is currently working on improvements to the design's power management capabilities.

Software Side

The Au1100-based PDA runs Metrowerks' Linux-based OpenPDA software suite, which includes an embedded Linux kernel and a range of software, such as applications for playing music and video files.

OpenPDA also includes Trolltech's Qtopia multilingual user interface, Opera Software's Opera Web browser, and support for both Personal Java and J2ME (Java 2 Platform Micro Edition).

AMD sees the ability to play full-screen video as a key feature of the PDA reference design, Pompa said, demonstrating the design's ability to play full-screen video on a 320-pixel by 240-pixel screen with no screen artifacts and without the assistance of a graphics processor.

"If you're really going to use this as a multimedia device, you have got to have good-quality video," Pompa said.

Video capabilities aside, AMD has yet to find a hardware maker that has committed to bringing the Alchemy-based reference design to market as a commercial product. But Pompa said hardware makers have already shown interest in the reference design.

"We're showing it to our customer base," Pompa said, adding that one hardware maker had been given a prototype to show to a customer at Computex last week.

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