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SIRF Speeds Up PNDs

1/02/2008 03:24:00 PM Eastern

San Jose, Calif. — GPS devices will approach instant-on capability with new OEM software from chip maker SIRF.

SIRF InstantFixII reduces the start-up time (or the time it takes for a device to acquire a GPS signal) from 30 seconds down to five seconds. The new software will be available in personal navigation devices (PNDs) in the near future, SIRF said.

SIRF supplies GPS processors to numerous navigation device makers including Garmin, TomTom, Magellan and Mio.  

SIRF founder and marketing VP Kanwar Chadha said the InstantFixII eliminates the need for network connectivity or downloads so it “makes the frequent start-up waits for PNDs a thing of the past.”

SIRF said it accomplishes this by using algorithms that enable a navigation device to predict the position of GPS satellite in the sky to reduce the time required by the PND to “find” them.

A GPS device can require minutes to “lock on” to its position because it must first “find” enough satellites to gauge its location. To do this, the device must know where the satellites are in the sky and it requires 30 seconds for a satellite to broadcast its precise location. If anything interrupts the signal during the “lock on” period, such as a building or tree, the receiver has to wait another 30 seconds to completely download the data from the satellite.  In real-world conditions, where the GPS receiver is usually moving, it can take up to several minutes to obtain the satellite “fix,” said SIRF.

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