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The 3G challenge demands the right tools for the job

The 3G challenge demands the right tools for the job

Everyone wants to hook up with wireless multimedia today, so they can use their cell phones to check e-mail, surf web pages, and conduct videoconferences. But first, infrastructure providers must build enough third-generation (3G) wireless base stations to handle the load. And there are some steep demands for these stations. Compared to current technology, they've got to handle greater capacity, process higher data rates, support multimedia standards, and reduce cost, size, and power consumption.

Texas Instruments thinks it has the answer. In February, TI released three new digital signal processors (DSPs) based on its new TMS320C64x(TM)platform. They include the general purpose 6414; the 6415, which is specialized as a media gateway; and the 6416, which is specialized for 3G wireless infrastructure. Running as fast as 600 MHz, these DSPs offer up to 10xperformance for broadband infrastructure, up to 15xperformance for imaging, and use less than one-third the power of their predecessors, says TI Marketing Manager Henry Wiechman.

Specifically, the 6416 provides nearly 15xthe symbol rate performance as its ancestor, the 6203. And since the 64xgeneration is code-compatible with the 62x generation, operators can easily migrate existing designs, says Nat Seshan, a TI applications engineering manager. It does this by using four times as many baseband wireless channels (up to 64 from 16). That means a 64x DSP can simultaneously crank through a channel of MPEG4 video encode, another channel of decode, and a channel of MPEG2 video decode, and still have over 50% headroom left over for voice and data coding.

Additional Details...Contact Texas Instruments, 12500 TI Blvd., Dallas, TX 75243-4136; Tel: (800) 336-5236, www.ti.com.

Chip enables voice over broadband

VoicePump's family of programmable DSP chips provide up to four channels of Voice over Digital Subscriber Line (VoDSL) or Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP). This VP100 series integrates a core processor with all necessary peripherals, and uses firmware ("hard software" chips that don't need electricity to hold their program code) to perform functions like speech compression and decompression, echo cancellation, and other telephony signaling.

The company is positioning it as "a cost-effective means of voice-enabling DSL routers with a truly single-chip solution, providing all DSP hardware and software necessary for these applications" for residences and small to medium enterprises. Options include the VP120, VP130, and VP140, which provide two-, three-, or four-port applications.

Additional Details...Contact VoicePump Inc., 299 California Ave., Suite 200, Palo Alto, CA 94306; Tel: (650) 323-3232; www.voicepump.com.

Opening the graphics bottleneck

But if you're trying to create great graphics, a high-performance chip may not be enough-you've got to match it with a graphics card that can keep up.

3Dlabssays it can deliver this in the new Wildcat II 5110. Designed to replace the Wildcat 4110, the card is optimized for applications in professional graphics (as opposed to special effects and gaming).

In fact, 3Dlabs claims such fast performance that these cards are often faster than the machines they work with, says Jeff Little, director of product marketing. "In other words, we're faster than the chips are, particularly the Pentium 3 with its bandwidth limitations."

The new card offers 2.5xhigher performance and quality than its predecessor. Together with industry adoption of Intel's new Pentium 4, this may help it provide truly speedy graphics: "The biggest bottleneck is moving data from system memory, to be processed by the host CPU, and then back to system memory," Little says.

The Wildcat II 5110 will ship in March, positioned against competition such as ELSA's GLoria III, HP's fx10, and other products from FGL and NEC.

Additional Details...Contact 3Dlabs, 480 Potrero Ave., Sunnyvale, CA 94085; Tel: (800) 464-3348, www.3dlabs.com.

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