BACKGROUND: Half a billion cell phones are sold each year, and within two years most of these will be inter-connected devices and contain built-in 2D/3D graphics accelerators. Scientists may be able to use these devices to disseminate visual information and scientific data, such as real-time molecular and medical data. For developing countries in particular, the cell phone will become their first and/or primary computing device. It's high-end data visualization for the masses.
MAKING PHONES SMARTER: So-called "smartphones" relate to a single device that can take care of all your handheld computing and communications needs in a single small package, integrating digital photography, cellular communication, calendars and address books, GPS navigation, email, and even play music or games. The biggest advantage is that smartphones allow users to install, configure and run their favorite applications, creating individual, tailor-made service. In contrast, most standard cell-phone software offers only limited configurations for personalizing the device.
ABOUT GRAPHICS ACCELERATORS: A graphics accelerator is a type of video adapter that contains its own microprocessor, enabling higher performance. It has its own memory for storing graphical representations. Among other advantages, graphics accelerators free up the computer's central processing unit. The CPU can do other tasks while the graphics accelerator is processing the graphics. When computation tasks are divided in this way, it is known as "load balancing." Today, graphics accelerators are not just an enhancement, but a necessity, and are bundled automatically into mid-range and high-range computers.
GOING DIGITAL: Digital cell phones use the same radio technology as analog phones, but unlike analog signals, digital signals can be compressed and manipulated to fit more calls onto a given bandwidth. It's also why more cable companies are switching to digital to gain more channels. Using digital cell phones, three to ten digital calls can occupy the same space as a single analog call.
The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc., contributed to the information contained in the TV portion of this report.