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September 15, 1998

MOTOROLA UPDATES DRAGONBALL CHIP FOR PDAs

By CBR Staff Writer

Motorola Inc has updated its DragonBall processor, claimed to be the number one selling chip for personal digital assistants. The DragonBall EZ, also known as the MC68EZ328, reduces power consumption and adds a programmable DRAM controller to the part, something that should enable manufacturers to reduce system costs and complexity by removing the need for separate static RAM and memory controllers. Used most conspicuously in 3Com Corp’s PalmPilot, but also in Motorola’s own paging devices such as the PageWriter, the chip has sold 3 million units since the introduction of the original version in 1995 (CI No 2,675). This is the first update since then for the part, which is based on Motorola’s veteran 68000 architecture. While still running at the original 16MHz clock speed and using an identical core to the older version, the DragonBall EZ has a smaller 100 pin packaging option, due to the removal of PCMCIA support. It still includes LCD controller, standard I/O ports, real-time clock and general purpose timer. Although 3Com hasn’t said what chip it will be using in its forthcoming Razor PalmPilot PDA, expected to be announced this fall, Palm’s director of hardware engineering said the chip would offer a significant new benefit to lower overall system cost and complexity. 3Com expects to have sold 2.2 million Palm devices by the end of this year. While DragonBall overlaps somewhat with Motorola’s newer MCore chip range, it currently has the advantage of a huge base of software development tools, operating systems and applications arising from the 68000 legacy. Pricing is from $8.95 in quantities of 10,000 for the 100 pin version, $9.95 for the 144 pin version. Samples are available now, with volume production by year-end.

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