more about the Hewlett-Packard GEOS-based PDA

Brian Smithson (brian@eit.COM)
Thu, 1 Jun 1995 12:00:30 -0700

I heard about an article in the May 8th EE Times about HP developing a
GEOS-based PDA. Fortunately, EE Times is online at <>.

The article deals mainly with details of interest to the electronics industry,
but a few of those details should be interesting to Zoomer/GEOS fans:

- HP seems to have long-term plan to move ahead with GEOS as a replacement (not
a parallel product) to the 200LX

- the first products from HP with AMD chips are at least a year away, but HP
does not feel the need to wait for AMD to release their first GEOS product

Here's the article:


HP, AMD ally on handhelds


Singapore - Hewlett-Packard Co. and Advanced Micro Devices
Inc. have forged a long-term alliance to develop a highly
integrated, low-power engine for HP's next-generation
handheld devices.

Indeed, for its new family of advanced handheld products, HP
will move away from the DOS environment-currently employed in
HP's popular 200LX handheld devices-to a platform that uses
the Geos operating system from GeoWorks, said Kheng Joo Khaw,
HP's general manager for the Asia Pacific Personal Computer
Division, based in Singapore.

Khaw called AMD ''the next-generation platform partner.''

AMD is expected to play a key role in developing a core-chip
solution for HP's new Geos-based products. An ASIC that AMD
will design exclusively for HP will feature ''either a 386 or
486 core,'' Khaw said. ''We need AMD to design a powerful
enough engine so that it won't run out of steam on a long

The goal of the agreement is to help develop handheld devices
that combine advanced PC functions and communications in a
pocket form factor. The first product born out of the
agreement probably won't reach the market at least for a year,
said an industry observer. However, HP soon might come up
with its first Geos OS-based handheld device, without waiting
for the AMD-HP next-generation silicon to be completed, the
source added. The two companies are keeping details of the
ASIC under wraps.

For the handheld market, AMD already has developed its
''Elan'' processors, announced at Comdex in 1993. The family
features a highly integrated, low-voltage, single-chip
implementation of a 32-bit, X86-compatible CPU combined with
the extra logic needed for PC/AT-compatible PCs. It comes with
two PCMCIA controllers, serial and parallel ports, and an LCD

Elan flavor

Though none of the design wins for Elan have been announced
yet, ''we are about to see on the market some of the system
products actually using our processor designed for handheld
computing,'' an AMD spokesman said.

The AMD official said that the new chip his company will
develop for HP might have an Elan flavor. But HP's Khaw made
it clear that ''Elan is a family of processors available
today. What we are developing with AMD is a next-generation
processor for our next-generation handheld platform. It needs
to look ahead and it has to be better than what you have

HP's 200LX handheld device, one of the best-selling PDAs on
the market, features HP's internally designed ASIC based on
Intel's 186 core.

HP's mobile computing division (Corvallis, Ore.), which
developed the handheld 200LX, is now solely focused on the
development of notebook computers. Meanwhile, a design team in
Singapore is now responsible for developing the company's new
generation of handheld devices. Both teams will report to

The decision at HP to adopt GeoWorks was made because it
''has a very small core, tightly designed for handheld
devices,'' Khaw said. ''A big core always ends up in bigger

''We could have followed a path that Sharp has taken, going
back to develop products based on the company's own closed
operating systems,'' he added. ''But we chose Geos because we
felt it's important to have an open platform and it needs to
be very scalable.'' Also, Geos is a much more modern,
up-to-date operating environment for handheld devices.

Khaw blamed the sluggishness of the PDA market on those ''who
just made an assumption that the technology is here and the
market and customers are ready for pen-based systems and
communication-centric handheld devices.'' The handheld devices
could eventually go after such trends, but ''it will take
time,'' he said.

The HP deal gives AMD recognition and the opportunity to
design a key silicon core of the next-generation handheld
platform for the system vendor.

Copyright 1995 by CMP Publications. All rights reserved.


-Brian Smithson                                   
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