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Stepping stone to wireless video

Today's wireless telephone systems simply don't have enough bandwidth to handle video images. But if Texas Instruments has its way, a new digital signal processor (DSP) could change that. Known as the C6203, the new DSP would enable wireless telephone base stations to dramatically increase their data rates. The result: Videophone technology will suddenly be available to wireless products, ranging from PCs to home phones to palmtops. The key, say TI engineers, is the greater bandwidth and larger memory of the C6203. "Fundamentally, we are enabling a wireless modem technology to boost its data rate from 9.6 to 384 kB per second," notes Rick Rinehart, C6000 DSP product line manager for TI. The C6203's larger memory enables it to put an entire frame of video on chip, compress it, and ship it off. As a result, wireless systems can now handle 15 video frames per second--enough to supply a fairly good video picture. "What we have is a bi-directional 384 kB line that brings 15 frame-per-second video along for free," Rinehart says. "So now you can implement video in wireless products." Texas Instruments: Product Code 4929

Chip offers full-motion video

The problem with USB-based video is that it's often too choppy. Or the picture is too grainy. The reason: USB (Universal Serial Bus) operates at low bandwidth, so most such video chips provide about 10 to 15 video frames per second. A new USB chipset, however, solves the problem by employing video compression technology. As a result, it offers about 30 frames per second. The chip, known as the NT1003 and manufactured by Nogatech Inc., brings full-motion video to PCs, iMACs, laptops, and palmtops. Nogatech's USBvision software also complies with Video for Windows. "This chipset compresses the video data, so it's small enough for the computer to read, while still providing full motion video," notes Rich Cabaell, North American sales and marketing manager for Nogatech. "So it allows for video conferencing, Internet conferencing, and video capture for e-mail." Nogatech Inc.: Product Code 4926

No more PC downtime

In mission critical applications, where computer downtime cannot exceed more than five minutes per year, it's hard for users to add a new PC card or swap out a floppy disk drive. Swapping out a disk drive, after all, could chew up all the available downtime for a year or more. Now, however, there's a simple solution. Granite Microsystems offers Device Bay DB-2000, a family of remote enclosures that allows for hot-swappable, plug-and-play expansion of computer peripherals, such as hard drives, floppy drives, CD-ROM drives, and tape backups. The DB-2000 family supports both USB and IEEE 1394 high-speed serial buses. With the Device Bay enclosure, users no longer need to shut down a computer and open it up to replace a faulty component. "You just press a button while the unit is functioning and slide your new part into place," notes Bob Wede, vice president of marketing and sales for Granite Microsystems. "You never go inside your computer, so your machine never goes down." Granite Microsystems: Product Code 4925

DRAM CAM speeds computation

For high-performance computing applications, Content Addressable Memories (CAMs) have always been--in theory--an ideal solution. Problem is, most CAMs have been too small and too costly for widespread use. Now, however, a new type of CAM offers a solution. Designed and built by MOSAID Technologies Inc., the new Dynamic RAM-based (DRAM) CAM is said to be the largest CAM on the market today. And because it uses a DRAM-based design, the new IC is much denser and has smaller cell sizes than competing technologies. MOSAID claims that a DRAM CAM cell can be implemented in just six transistors, representing a 2.5x density advantage over SRAMs. MOSAID engineers say its density, along with a two-fold improvement in its data input rate, enables the DRAM CAM to do millions of searches per second. It is particularly well suited for compression, encryption, pattern recognition, and parallel data-processing applications. MOSAID Technologies Inc.: Product Code 4928

High-powered server

For workgroups with I/O-intensive, high-performance applications, IBM recently rolled out what may be the ultimate server. The RS/6000 Model T70 Workgroup Server offers two- to eight-way numeric-intensive computing with up to four SP Expansion I/O Units. It can run such applications as automotive crash analysis, manufacturing simulations, seismic processing, and other "deep computing" problems. Compatible engineering codes for crash analysis include: Optris, PamCrash, LS DYNA; and Radioss. The T70 is also compatible with such CAE structure codes as ANSYS, FLOTRAN, Abaqus, and NASTRAN, as well as CAE/CFD codes such as Star-CD, Fire, Fluent, Rampart, and Polyflow. It employs the 64-bit architecture of IBM's new RS/6000 family of servers. IBM:Product Code 4930

Flexible server

A new scalable server from SGI allows engineers to run Windows NT-based CAD/CAM programs or operate in the powerful Linux environment. Known as the SGI 1400 server, it employs an Intel Pentium III Xeon processor. It is said to be applicable for traditional computation-intensive engineering problems--such as crash analysis or fluid dynamics studies--as well as manufacturing applications and electronic design automation (EDA). The machine's architecture is compatible with sophisticated EDA tools, making it a viable choice for engineers doing logic and chip design. The SGI 1400L incorporates one to four 500-MHz Pentium II Xeon processors, with a selection of 512 Kbytes, 1 Mbyte, or 2 Mbytes of secondary cache. It offers up to four Gbytes of memory with seven PCI slots. A base configuration with one processor, 512 Kbytes of cache, 256 Kbytes of memory and a 9-Gbyte disk starts at $7,935. SGI: Product Code 4927

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