By squeezing most of the computing functions needed by a mobile phone onto one chip, Texas Instruments might make handsets so cheap that companies can dish them out like confetti.

TI has created a single chip that integrates most of the computing functionality needed by a mobile phone. Putting the digital baseband, SRAM, logic, radio frequency (RF), power management and analogue functions on one piece of silicon will, TI says, make it cheaper and easier for manufacturers to build entry-level phones.

Typically, mobile phones contain one chip devoted to handling the RF, as well as other chips for other functions. A high-end phone might have a separate chip for polyphonic ringtones, for example. But these chips are only one part of the overall cost of manufacturing a phone, with the battery and screen also key factors.

Nokia is already onboard, and said on Monday it will use the Digital RF Processor (DRP) technology in future handsets. Initially, Nokia will target the entry-level mobile phone market in countries such as India and China.

With mobile phone penetration in mature markets such as the US and Western Europe approaching saturation point, phone makers and network operators are increasingly eyeing other parts of the world for new subscribers.

More here.