Smartphone users will be able to watch broadband television and snap high-resolution photos on their handsets in 2007, thanks to new processor and memory chips launched at the 3GSM World Congress in Barcelona on Monday.
Together with dropping prices, these chips will help spread smartphones from high-end business users to a larger mass market audience, according to hardware component manufacturers attending the 3GSM show.
Camera phones will get a boost in power by using high-resolution image sensors from Micron Technology. The company's new MT9-series sensors use a 1.75-micron pixel design in resolutions of up to five megapixels. The top-shelf version, MT9P012, captures video at 60 frames per second at 720p resolution or 30 fps at 1080p, and will be ready for sampling in the second quarter of 2007, with mass production by the middle of the year.
Likewise, Omnivision Technologies announced a 5.17-megapixel camera module for mobile handsets, using the OV5623 CameraChip sensor. That sensor will help high-resolution cameras to enter the mainstream mobile handset market, the company says.
To store those large photo files, SanDisk announced it had developed a high-capacity version of its iNAND embedded flash drive, capable of holding up to 8GB of data. The new drives are now compliant with Joint Electron Device Engineering Council standards, allowing phone vendors to use them in designs that demand enough storage for mobile TV, multimedia downloading, digital audio players, gaming and global positioning systems.
Also supporting mobile television, Qualcomm says its Universal Broadcast Modem (UBM) chip would ship ahead of schedule, delivering mobile TV capability to mass-market handsets. A single UBM chip contains three technology standards, including FLO technology, digital video broadcasting-handheld and integrated service digital broadcasting-terrestrial.
To support these capabilities without driving up retail prices, vendors say they need to increase the market size, so another feature of many chips launched at 3GSM was low cost. Broadcom launched its Edge processor, integrating a radio frequency transceiver, baseband functions and multimedia connectivity support on a single chip. That design lets phone vendors create slimmer designs, reduce power consumption and control costs, Broadcom says.