Consumers may soon be able to get their hands on mobile devices that support flashier multimedia content and services thanks to a speedy new chip being developed by Samsung.

The electronics firm claimed that its S3C2440 chip, announced today, will be the "world's fastest" CPU for gadgets such as handheld computers and smartphones. With a clock speed of up to 533MHz, it is designed to keep power consumption to a minimum and will support features such as a camera, touch-screen interface and USB connection.

A company representative couldn't say exactly how long it will be before the chip gets to market since it's still under development. He confirmed that mass production is planned to begin in the fourth-quarter of this year, however, and consumers could be clutching a S3C2440-powered smartphone or PDA as soon as six months after that.

The chip is based on the ARM920T core, with a 16/32bit Risc (reduced instruction set computing) microprocessor and a core of 1.3 volts. As well as offering high performance from relatively low power consumption, the chip is being designed to fit into small form factor devices.

Samsung is also trying to help device makers keep system costs down by offering a chip that doesn't require them to configure additional components. The S3C2440 has a built-in Nand flash boot loader, for example, so that high-density Nand flash memory can be installed without an additional support chip.

The popularity of mobile multimedia applications is driving the market for high-speed, low-power chips, according to Samsung. The company is sampling its S3C2440 CPU in 533MHz, 400MHz and 300MHz versions. It supports the Windows CE, Palm, Symbian and Linux operating systems.

The representative said it is too early in the development process to name any manufacturing partners Samsung may have secured for the chip.