Content providers in the mobile-phone industry can begin to exploit a new MPEG-4 encoder and decoder from Toshiba that allows mobiles to handle video-grade 3D content using the format, the company announced today.

With Apple's QuickTime standard poised to take advantage of any growth in the content for mobile phones industry, because it is part of the MPEG-4 standard, this could be good news for Mac users looking to explore new markets.

The new integrated circuit, the T4G supports fast graphics rendering and offers advanced features such as shading, texture mapping, and other traditional high-res 3D graphics capabilities. It offers a drawing performance of 125-million pixels per second.

Mobiles in the market today mainly render 3D using software, which taxes the low-powered processors in phones and degrades battery life. Toshiba's solution is to introduce a dedicated circuit to handle such tasks. This analogy is similar to the dedicated graphics processors installed in todays Macs.

The product also has a built-in JPEG codec for a 2-megapixel camera and carries 20MB memory on-board. Sample shipments of Toshiba's IC will begin in the second quarter 2004, with mass production anticipated to begin in the third quarter this year.