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Wednesday, April 06, 2005, 11:00 am PT (02:00 pm ET)

Report: Apple contracts chips for new mobile multimedia device

Apple Computer has reportedly made a major commitment towards the development of a mobile multimedia device.

The iPod maker has recently contracted the use of powerful video, image, and music chips from British-run Alphamosaic, SiliconValleyWatcher is reporting.

The publication says Apple could use the chips to build a family of advanced iPod and mobile hand-held digital devices equipped with wireless communications.

In a September press release, the UK-based Alphamosaic described its next generation VC02 chip as "the world's most advanced mobile multimedia processor." The chip can display video on 3.5 inch color LCDs and capture 8 megapixel images, making it ideal for watching TV, making videos or taking studio-quality photos on a cellphone.

Meanwhile, Broadcom, which acquired the 57 person Alphamosaic for about $125M last September, says the VCO2 chip uses very small amounts of battery power and "excels in high-quality 3D graphics performance." It's capable of supporting pixel shading and volumetric lighting with low power consumption, "making it ideal for use in mobile gaming applications and comparable in performance to home consoles."

The SiliconVallyWatcher believes Apple could use Alphamosaic chips as the foundation for a new family of iPod devices that could include camera, gaming and wireless connectivity features.

"The Apple device could be ready in volume quantities by the end of 2005 or early January 2006 if Apple gets the ball rolling now," the publication said.