July 2003

The XScale mystery
The scenario is known to all CE aficionados: Microsoft and Intel steer away from the rock-solid, ubiquitous StrongARM SA-1110 to the new ARM 5-compliant XScale processor technology. Much to the chagrin of early adopters, XScale PXA250-powered Pocket PCs do, to be kind, not outperform older StrongARM models despite much higher clock speeds. Word on the street says it's because Pocket PC 2002 is not optimized for XScale and the new devices basically run in emulation. Intel abruptly drops the PXA250 and introduces the PXA255 with twice the internal bus speed. Word on the street says the PXA250 was bascially a bum chip and the PXA255 fixed many glitches. No one officially comments on whether Windows Mobile 2003 for Pocket PC, now based on CE .NET 4.2, really had to be recompiled to take advantage of XScale. PXA255 devices with the new OS seem quicker, though we haven't properly benchmarked them. Those who bought a PXA250 device are miffed. Vertical market vendors who designed PXA250 devices are miffed. What's the real story? -- Posted Thursday, July 10, 2003 by chb