Texas Instruments Inc. said last week that it has
introduced the world's fastest and lowest-power digital-signal processors, which are
expected to provide real-time speed and power efficiency for personal wireless multimedia
The chip maker said it hopes the DSPs will gain favor with
cable operators, too, once the use of Internet protocol-voice applications are more
TI also said last week that Ericsson Inc.'s latest
residential broadband-modem products will feature TI's DSP-based remote-terminal
asymmetrical-digital-subscriber-line chip sets.
The first of the new DSPs, the "TMS320C64x," will
be 10 times faster than today's fastest DSP, and it will be able to operate at speeds of
up to 1.1 gigahertz and to compute nearly 9 billion instructions per second, according to
The second DSP requires only 15 percent of the power of the
best available today. It is targeted toward Internet appliances that will combine voice,
video and data into products such as portable phones, digital music players and digital
cameras, with constant online links to the Internet.
The power in the new DSPs is in so-called cores, meaning
multiple chips will be available from each core.
TI will begin shipping the first devices in the second
quarter. The products will be available to consumers one year later.
"Today, the DSPs folks are using are being pushed
pretty close to their limits based on some of the current specifications from the
cable operators," TI worldwide marketing manager Tom Vial said. "If they
continue to evolve those specifications, the '55X' will allow our customers to keep up.
Basically, it will allow us to continue to advance voice and application. It will also
allow us to introduce new applications and a new level of services on top of those
Michael Harris, an analyst at Phoenix-based Kinetic
Strategies Inc., said the launch of TI's new products will heat up the company's war with
Broadcom Corp., also a provider of solutions that enable broadband digital transmission of
voice, data and video content.
"The power consumption of the chip set becomes vitally
important to meet targets," Harris said. Both companies are "trying to solve the
same problem from different perspectives. The key thing is to build on platforms to first
minimize their costs."
Vial said TI is prepared to go head-to-head with Broadcom
and other competitors in the cable-modem market.
"None of our competitors to date can demonstrate being
a system where they provide the complete solution -- all of the software and all of the
silicon. This shows that we've got a head start We need to continue to push
Broadcom out of some of their entrenched positions as the incumbent."
The introduction of the new DSPs means consumers will have
a greater choice in their local phone service, Vial said.
"This is the first time in history that there are true
independent sources for local wireline phone service. The level of service goes up and the
cost goes down," he added.
Vial said he does not expect the cost of cable modems to
increase. With the new products, however, TI will be able to "provide more DSPs to
whole new classes of applications that will be invented and deployed."
Mike Hames, vice president and manager of worldwide DSPs
for TI, said, "These are the chips Dick Tracy has been waiting for to power his
wristwatch. Now he'll not only make a wireless call, he'll also access the Internet to
check his stocks, run a personal electrocardiogram and e-mail it to his doctor, send a
digital photo of a suspect to the police station, all while listening to music downloaded
from the Web."
The programmable DSP market is expected to grow from $4
billion in 1999 to more than $13 billion in 2003, according to TI. The company holds a 48
percent market share in the industry.
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