Long gone are the days when it was enough for a mobile phone to simply be a phone. Ever since the technology began to emerge to transform handsets into handheld media players, phone manufacturers have been producing these multimedia marvels in droves.
To help the device makers pack the latest innovations into their handsets, Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), one of the world's largest chipmakers and chief rival of Intel, has developed a next-generation version of its Imageon processors for mobile devices.
AMD says the new processors offer super-fast speeds and can handle everything from high-resolution photos to cinematic-quality video and audio for mobile phones.
Three New Imageon Chips
AMD unveiled its new Imageon 2298, 2294, and 2192 processors earlier this week at the 3GSM World Congress in Barcelona, and said that the new media processors are now being made available to handheld-device makers. Mobile devices incorporating the new chips are expected to begin shipping from manufacturers early next year.
Previous versions of the Imageon processors are currently used by LG, Fujitsu, and Samsung, and by Motorola in the popular SLVR and RAZR models.
AMD says the new processors provide all-in-one multimedia functionality for mobile phones, with capabilities supporting image quality of up to 12 megapixels, DVD-quality video playback and recording, and even a TV-output function for showing movies and images from the phone on a television screen or projector.
Andy Thompson, director of marketing for AMD's handheld division, said that in developing the new chips, AMD focused more on creating "what you'd expect from a consumer electronics device" rather than "what you'd expect from a phone." To illustrate the distinction, he pointed to the image-stabilization features for capturing pictures and video. Using this feature, he said, helps eliminate the jerky, grainy images produced by many of today's camera phones.
But video and images are not the only capabilities getting a major boost from the new chips. AMD says the Imageons also can transform a phone into a high-definition handheld music player.
The chips support advanced video and audio encoding and decoding, along with echo cancellation, for the best possible quality. Mobile TV capabilities of the chip allow for watching digital TV on the go, while error resiliency compensates for transmission glitches.
Thompson also pointed out that, because the media processor is designed to be separate from the main phone processor, it's easier for mobile phone manufacturers to add new multimedia functions to their phones. That means that cell phones and smartphones with the new capabilities can be brought to market more quickly.
Having separate processors also can help prolong device battery life, he said, which is always an advantage for business professionals as well as others on the go.