Cell Phones: TI's Projector In Your Pocket

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Texas Instruments' new OMAP chips will enable smartphones to record video and play it back at high-definition rates, integrate 20-megapixel cameras and include mini-projector technology. TI debuted the latest incarnation of the OMAP chips Monday at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain.

TI has struggled like most chip makers in recent months. Last month it said it would lay off 3,400 employees as it restructured operations following one of the worst sequential and year-over-year quarterly performances in TI's history. However, TI expects growth in mobile Web surfing and video and said the new "projector" chips will be in commercial products by the second half of 2010.

Earlier versions of the chipset have significantly expanded the versatility of mobile phones. For example, Samsung's recently launched $500 phone, currently only available in South Korea, uses the first version of TI's pico-projector technology. Samsung's device can beam video or photographs from a phone to a flat surface. Pico-projectors could grow as quickly as the camera phone segment, which expanded from 3 million shipments in 2001 to approximately 1 billion in 2007, according to research firm Strategy Analytics.

In a statement, Greg Delagi, senior vice president and head of TI's Wireless Business Unit, said the OMAP 4 platform will enable a new class of mobile devices that will redefine the boundaries of smartphones and mobile Internet devices. The new OMAP 4 mobile chip platform, according to TI, has three times better computing performance than its own OMAP 3 chip and can download Web pages up to 10 times faster than predecessors.

"With the Internet becoming a common factor for communication, entertainment and computing, the performance of mobile devices is being pushed to new levels. In addition, the lines between existing devices is blurring while new devices and categories are emerging," said Jim McGregor, chief technology strategist at In-Stat, in a statement.

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