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Palm Paves Way For ARM-Based Digital Devices

Palm announced new licensing agreements with chip makers Intel, Motorola and Texas Instruments which are expected to bring the Palm OS to ARM-based PDAs as well as other devices including mobile phones and smart pagers.

Currently Palm runs on a Motorola DragonBall processor, although a new version of the Palm OS due in 2002 is expected to allow the software to run on ARM-based processors, used by more powerful Pocket PCs.

Under the new agreements, Intel will develop reference designs for StrongARM-based and Xscale-based Palm OS units and Texas Instruments will develop a wireless processing platform to support the Palm OS. Motorola will also develop reference designs for its new DragonBall MX1 processor. The new reference designs are expected to speed development of Palm-based ARM products, said Palm.

Alex Slawsby, analyst for International Data Corp, Framingham, Mass., said, “Essentially you have the chipsets, the hardware and there’s a software layer that fits between the hardware and the OS which is called an abstraction layer. This agreement allows companies building ARM-based processors to build an abstraction layer for the upcoming Palm OS due in 2002.

“ARM has the momentum right now,” he added. “The chips are more powerful and there’s a lot of vendors building them. It could open up a Palm based iPAQ in the future. Also a lot of mobile phones and smart pagers run on ARM so this would allow the Palm OS to run on those devices in the future.”