New Front Opens on Wireless Technology
By DON CLARK
October 4, 2007
Seven technology vendors are laying plans to collaborate on a standard layer of software that will make it easier to develop cellphones and other mobile devices with iPhone-like sophistication.
The effort, designed to exploit chip technology from the British company ARM Holdings PLC, could help the company and its allies gird for new competition from Intel Corp. Other participants include chip makers Texas Instruments Inc., Samsung Electronics Co. and Marvell Technology Group Ltd.
ARM's chip designs, licensed to semiconductor companies, are the most widely used electronic brains in cellphones. But many of those companies make slight additions and modifications to the chips, noted Warren East, ARM's chief executive.
The variations make it harder to write an application program that works on multiple gadgets. Participants hope the new collaboration will address such issues, Mr. East said. They plan to combine the Linux operating system and other programs as part of a standard "platform" of software that can become a focus of development for programmers developing applications.
The effort comes as Intel, the dominant force in microprocessors for personal computers, is discussing plans to step up activity aimed at ARM's turf. Intel recently sold a business based on using ARM's designs, but it is planning to adapt the x86 technology used in PC chips for new mobile products. Intel executives argue that x86 chips -- which aren't modified by companies that use them -- provide a technology foundation easier for programmers to exploit.
Mr. East acknowledged some software advantages of the x86 camp, but argued the new development effort would help reduce them. "I never underestimate Intel as a competitor," he said. "But they have a lot of catching up to do."
It will be based on linux and hopefully they will get it through.