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Wednesday, February 11, 2009, 03:40 pm PT (06:40 pm ET)

Samsung readies first mobile processor with Wireless USB

Opening the door to true wireless sync for portable devices, Samsung has taken the wraps from the first handheld-sized processor with built-in support for the Wireless USB standard.

Made public on Wednesday, the unnamed processor joins a central ARM core with the new peripheral standard to pipe data at a real-life 120Mbps — more than twice as fast as existing Wireless USB chipsets and fast enough to more closely imitate traditional, wired USB.

The system-on-a-chip implementation also has a built-in RAM controller as well as links for ordinary USB and could serve as a complete replacement CPU for devices that would otherwise need a cable to transfer large amounts of information across a short distance.

As it can shuttle a 700MB movie over the wireless link in about a minute, Samsung touts the technology as being fast enough for a typical data sync, multimedia streaming, and even for sharing data between similar devices. An MP3 player could beam its music through wireless speakers, for example, while a cellphone could share songs or videos between other compatible products.

Volume production of the chip should begin sometime during the second calendar quarter of the year.

It's not certain that Apple will ever use this particular chip for any future devices. Although the Cupertino, Calif.-based company regularly uses Samsung ARM chips for iPhone and iPod touch models, any implementation would need to both perform well and to have corresponding support on Apple computers; there's no sign yet that the Mac maker is ready to adopt Wireless USB for any system in its lineup.

Should Apple ever adopt some variant of the new processor, however, the invention would have sufficient transfer speed to let users sync entire iTunes libraries or to add peripherals that would otherwise need the performance of a full-fledged USB port. While companies have already experimented with automatic wireless updates, such as the Zune's Wi-Fi sync of its owner's library, these have often been deliberately limited only to transfers after the first sync, which is often too large for the relatively slow speeds of the 802.11g wireless links that are the norm on cellphones and other palm-sized gadgets.