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TeraLogic Tackles Graphics Chip

Denver -- Reasoning that Internet video and text need sometweaking before they look good on television sets, chip vendor TeraLogic Inc. last weekdebuted a powerful new graphics chip designed to handle the transformation.

Based in Mountain View, Calif., the two-year-old start-upemerged in February with a management team comprised mostly of former LSI Logic Inc.executives.

Last week, TeraLogic executives, during a briefing here,demonstrated its new TL750 graphics chip with on-board video processing. Their rationalewas that new data applications, like Internet multimedia, simply require ahigh-performance graphics and video engine.

The company's hope is that the new chip will sit underthe hood of digital set-tops for direct-broadcast satellite, cable and terrestrialbroadcast, as well as in Internet TV terminals and Web DVD (digital versatile disc)players, executives said.

Raghu Rao, director of digital product marketing forTeraLogic, said that the

company identified a graphics chip as a market mostlybecause the silicon market was saturated with MPEG-2 decoding solutions, and because theconvergence of television and data creates a great need for advanced graphics processing.

"We felt that existing MPEG decoder [chips] are kindof low performance on the graphics side, and PC [personal computer] graphics chips are tooexpensive and just not well suited for TV applications," Rao said.

Jonathan Cassell, an analyst with Dataquest, said that thechip offers a good solution for the meshing of '90s technology -- the Web -- and50-year-old television technology.

"There's a 50-year gap there, and what TeraLogichas is something that bridges that gap," he said. "There's a lot of tricksyou can do with a graphics chip to improve the look [of digital content on analog TVdisplays], and these guys have a whole bag full of tricks."

Other contenders in the graphics chip arena: PowerTV Inc.,with its "Eagle" chip; WebTV Inc., with its "Solo" chip; and LSI LogicInc., with a chip called "Falcon," among others.

The 208-pin chip, based on 0.35 micron silicon, will costabout $10 in volume and will not require any redesign of set-tops such as the OpenCableline in development by several manufacturers, Rao said.

TeraLogic already has several takers for the TL750: ToshibaConsumer Products-UK, Vestel Electronics, Symbionics Inc., Network Computer Inc.,PlanetWeb, Digital Semiconductor and Toshiba Electronics Europe.

Vassilis Seferidis, senior manager of business developmentat Toshiba's Consumer Products Group, said that the TeraLogic chip "was a keycomponent of our terrestrial digital TV set-top that will be deployed in the U.K. laterthis year."

Seferidis added that the chip "will allow Toshiba todeliver a superior digital TV product for the British Digital Broadcasting network."