Seen at Intel Developer event: PDA with camera, Capt. Kirk and Segway!

[PROGRAMMERS REPORT -Sept 24, 2002] - Intel is making it easier for developers to create rich multimedia applications for handheld mobile devices with the addition of its Wireless MMX technology to its XScale processor architecture. The addition of this set of instructions is calculated to enable software engineers to port multimedia and graphical routines written for PCs to smaller devices, Intel representatives said.

The company made the announcement earlier this month at its fall Intel Developer Forum (IDF). In his opening keynote, Intel President Paul Otellini told a packed auditorium at the San Jose Convention Center that his company would continue to boost chip performance and add features, despite the downturn in the PC market.

XScale evolved from Intel's StrongARM architecture, which was based on the ARM license granted to Digital Equipment, which was purchased a few years ago by Intel as part of a patent-infringement lawsuit settlement between the companies.

According to Ron Smith, senior vice president and general manager of the Intel wireless communications and computing group, Intel Wireless MMX technology 'helps bring desktop-like multimedia capabilities to the Intel XScale technology in a way that helps increase performance, while minimizing the power needed to run rich applications.'

The addition offers developers a set of new instructions for future Intel Personal Internet Client Architecture (PCA)-based processors designed to enhance the multimedia experience of Intel PCA-based mobile devices. Intel's Wireless MMX combines the MMX technology instruction set, the integer instructions from Intel Streaming SIMD Extensions (SSE), plus several new multimedia acceleration instructions unique to the XScale micro-architecture.

The technology is said to be general enough to address the needs of a large domain of mobile software applications built from current and future algorithms.

In closing the IDF conference, Intel CTO Pat Gelsinger presented a keynote that included a ride to the stage on a Segway 'human transporter,' as well as some snappy banter with actor William Shatner, best known for his role as Star Trek's Captain James T. Kirk. Gelsinger underscored the theme of his presentation -- the future of technology -- by carrying and wearing a host of electronic devices, including a baseball cap with a monocle eye monitor, a PDA with a camera, a Bluetooth headset, a universal remote control, a mobile phone, a personal video player and an electronic vest 'infrastructure/data center' with a server sewn in the back -- the very devices Intel is targeting with the MMX announcement.

Intel is also providing tools 'to help ensure that Intel Wireless MMX technology is supported today by an extensive development environment.' This development environment includes compilers, vectorizing compilers, assemblers, debuggers, simulators, emulators, intrinsics functions and the Intel Integrated Performance Primitives (IPP).

Intel Wireless MMX technology is supported by several operating systems, including WindowsCE.NET Version 4.1, SymbianOS, Palm OSv.5, and Linux from MontaVista and Embedix.

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About the Author

John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached at


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