updated 2/14/2006 7:04:45 PM ET 2006-02-15T00:04:45

Texas Instruments Inc., the leading maker of chips that run mobile phones, said Tuesday it has developed a more powerful processor to enable high-quality video and other intensive tasks on wireless devices.

The company says the new technology will improve the quality of phone camcorders and let users download high-quality movies to their phones for replay on a TV screen.

In addition, the company says the new processors will allow users to take 12-megapixel photos with just a one-second delay between shots _ the kind of performance usually reserved for expensive digital single-lens reflex cameras.

"That's pretty extreme for a handset, even a few years out. Will a 12-megapixel camera phone be worth it?" said Allen Nogee, an analyst with technology research firm In-Stat. "A lot of this is about bragging rights, but if they can do it, more power to them."

But Stan Bruederle, a research executive at Gartner Dataquest, said TI was leaving it up to manufacturers to take advantage of more powerful chips, and the manufacturers won't do anything that that weakens the phone function of their devices.

"The chip guys are way ahead of the applications," he said. "In the end, it's still a phone."

Texas Instruments says it will begin shipping the new processors to manufacturing customers in a few months, and they should start showing up in phones next year.

The semiconductor company calls the technology OMAP 3, for open multimedia applications platform. Its OMAP 2 chips haven't even reached U.S. consumers yet but are available in Japan with features such as 3.2 megapixel cameras and 3D gaming.

Texas Instruments doesn't disclose sales of individual products but said recently that a $400 million increase in wireless revenue came mostly from components for advanced phones, and more than half of that came from earlier versions of OMAP.

Texas Instruments and competitors such as Renesas Technology Corp. and Motorola spinoff Freescale Semiconductor Inc. have been making ever-more powerful processors that run on less power to reduce their battery-draining tendency.

TI says the OMAP 3, announced at the 3GSM World Congress trade show in Spain, uses up to 30 percent less power than OMAP 2.

Gilles Delfassy, TI senior vice president for wireless business, insisted his company's new technology isn't designed for overly esoteric functions. He said more powerful chips make cell phones even more indispensable.

"It's the platform that you'll trust for most of the things you do in life," Delfassy said. "It's so comfortable to do with a small piece of equipment."

Delfassy believes people will eventually use one device for most of their electronic needs, but not everyone is so sure.

David Linsalata, an analyst with International Data Corp., sees new chips fitting into separate devices for work and pleasure. He said beefier chips allow for multitasking on phones, which is better suited to business chores than personal needs.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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