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New Intel technology promises "Xbox in a phone"

A new mobile processor codenamed "Bulverde" will bring mobile gaming into the 21st century, Intel has told delegates at its developer forum event, claiming that the chip will put Xbox-quality gaming into phones.

A new mobile processor codenamed "Bulverde" will bring mobile gaming into the 21st century, Intel has told delegates at its developer forum event, claiming that the chip will put Xbox-quality gaming into phones.

The processor is the latest in Intel's range of XScale chips, which are designed as powerful but compact and power-efficient CPUs for handheld devices such as mobile phones and PDAs.

The Bulverde will borrow significant amounts of functionality from the Pentium family of chips, including the MMX multimedia instructions which are used widely by PC game developers.

This, according to XScale applications manager Kyle Fox, will significantly improve both 2D and 3D graphics performance as well as enhancing the audio capabilities of Bulverde devices.

The chip will also integrate a range of video and still photograph processing and encoding functions, and has been designed to conserve power with a series of low-power modes which it switches between automatically and transparently to the user.

The claim of Xbox level games on mobile devices is a little optimistic - while the XScale processors are certainly fast, and the addition of MMX is useful, you'll probably still need to couple a good mobile 3D chip (such as those created by ATI and Videologic) with the CPU in order to get acceptable 3D performance out of the device.

However, it's a step which tells us that Intel believes firmly in mobile multimedia and gaming, and is making serious moves into that territory. Bulverde will debut at some point in 2005, with further information expected to appear by the end of this year.

The Register

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Rob Fahey

Contributing Editor

Rob Fahey is a former editor of GamesIndustry.biz who spent several years living in Japan and probably still has a mint condition Dreamcast Samba de Amigo set.