Innovative Computer Peripheral Products

By: 
March 11, 2002

How to fit 20 Gbytes in your hand

Toshiba's newest 1.8-inch embedded hard-disk drives (HDDs) are available in 10- and 20-Gbyte capacities. These mini-drives are designed to provide storage for mobile and handheld products, such as music players, handheld PCs, PDAs, digital video cameras, and car navigation systems. The 20-Gbyte version is also used in Toshiba's "ultraportable" 2.6-lb, 0.6-inch thin Portege 2000 notebook PC. At just 54 x 78.5 mm, the new drives weigh 51 grams (62 grams for the 20-Gbyte version). And both the 10- (MK1003GAL) and 20-Gbyte version (MK2003GAH) have data-transfer rates of 100 Mbytes/sec. The drives can withstand operational shock up to 200g and non-operating shock to 1,000g. "We tend to introduce our new capacity drives at 2.5 inches and port them over to 1.8 inches," says Tom Jones, VP of engineering. "The biggest challenge in doing that is miniaturization of the semiconductors." To manage the extra heat generated in the shrunken footprint, Toshiba runs the 1.8-inch drives on just 3.3V, compared to 5V for the 2.5-inch drives. Toshiba : Enter 516

Processor boosts digital photo performance

AMD's new 1.3 GHz Duron(TM) processor has the power to deliver top performance in digital photo, audio, and Internet applications, says AMD spokeswoman Catherine Abbinanti. This speed-grade improvement to the mature Duron platform is optimized for Microsoft's Windows XP operating system, and supports both DDR (double data rate) and SDRAM memory formats. "DDR memory taps into the processor's performance potential even further," says Ed Ellett, VP of marketing for the Computation Products Group at AMD (Sunnyvale, CA). "In tandem, AMD Duron processor-based systems with DDR memory can offer cost-conscious purchasers better-performing, more cost-effective PCs than the competition." The company also released its Athlon(TM) 4 processor 1500+, available in Compaq's Presario 700 notebook series. AMD also announced mobile Duron processors at 1.2 and 1.1 GHz. Designed for applications like notebook computers, they use the company's PowerNow! tool to manage power and extend battery life, while maintaining performance. AMD : Enter 517

Disk recalls data in a flash

Saying it has created the industry's thinnest 128-Mbyte flash disk, M-Systems (Newark, CA) released the DiskOnChip DIMM Plus. It provides capacities of 32, 64, 96, or 128 Mbyte nonvolatile memory storage, as well as data protection, security, and low-power consumption. The DIMM (dual inline memory module) chip fits into a 144-pin package, less than 4 mm thick. With a sustained read rate of 3 Mbyte/sec, and write rate of 1.5 Mbyte/sec, it outperforms the company's previous products, the DIP (dual inline package) and DIMM modular. The chip is designed for applications in thin clients, digital set-top boxes, automotive computers, and electronic medical products. "We combined the best features of two of our existing products, the DIMM2000 and Millennium Plus," says Product Manager Yigal Ben-Zeev. "The combination of modularity, protection, and high performance adds to the benefit of overall cost reduction derived by integrating the boot code into the DiskOnChip." M-Systems : Enter 518

Chips let you whisper over the Web

As personal electronics converge into multi-use devices (PDA, phone, beeper, etc.), one thing is becoming clear-the Web is not just for typing. Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is a technology that converts TDM (time division multiplexing) telephone voice traffic into IP packets. And now from Zarlink Semiconductor (Ottawa, Canada) comes the MT92210, a network processor that can simultaneously convert 1,023 channels of voice into IP packets. Such high capacity means that developers need fewer DSPs (digital signal processors) to do the work, saving time and money, says Product Line Manager Jeremy Lewis. Also, the MT92210 performs some functions usually done by software-silence suppression, comfort noise injection, and RTP (real time protocol) processing. Zarlink : Enter 519

DRAM cell saves data from radiation

The Class-IC(TM) DC9288 is a high-performance network search engine, based on the industry's smallest ternary CAM (content addressable memory) cell, says its creator, MOSAID (Ottawa, Ontario, Canada). The 9-bit engine uses DRAM (dynamic random access memory) and is targeted at applications in network routing and switching. Its ternary data is stored as one, zero, or don't-care, as opposed to the strictly ones and zeros of binary data. Other CAM applications include advanced packet classification, billing functions, storage area networks, and test equipment. Compared to competing SRAM (static random access memory) products, DRAM offers lower power consumption and greater resistance to soft errors, which are caused when background radiation corrupts stored data, says Romain Saha, MOSAID's director of marketing. "This is the first true DRAM CAM," he says. "Embedded DRAM technology combines the density benefits of DRAM with the performance benefits of high-speed logic." Production is expected in the third quarter. MOSAID : Enter 563

Multi-purpose DSPs shrink size, power, cost

How'd you like to reduce cost, size, and power consumption in real-time applications such as text-to-speech, wireless data, voice recognition, and networked security? Two new DSPs (digital signal processors) from Texas Instruments (Houston, TX) achieve this goal by combining the DSP and RISC (reduced instruction set computing) functions into a single chip. The TMS320C5470 and C5471 also reduce design complexity and part count, boosting production line speed. And both offer communications stacks and peripherals for 10/100 Ethernet, home phone line network alliance (HPNA), Bluetooth, and 802.11 wireless LAN. "With TI's C54x DSP now available with a RISC processor on a single chip, significant benefits are immediately recognized," says Dennis Barrett, a TI product marketing manager. "In a given application, each task required can be targeted toward the right processing engine for increased system performance." For instance, a text-to-speech system might dedicate its DSP to text-to-speech synthesis, while using its RISC processor for linguistic processing. Texas Instruments : Enter 564

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