National Semiconductor has launched the first incarnation of its much-touted system-on-a-chip for the burgeoning information appliance market.
NatSemi said the Geode SC1400 chip, as it is now called, incorporates the functions of 43 chips on a single piece of silicon. The first products using Geode chips are expected to ship by next summer.
Vendors have been eager to incorporate the chip into TV set-top boxes and other information appliances. The company will have the market to itself for about 12 months, until rival Intel releases its Timna integrated chip.
The SC1400 integrates digital video and major PC functions, with the exception of DRAM and high-voltage components, on one chip. Such functions include the processor, system logic, graphics, MPEG video decompression, audio, TV input/output and peripheral input/output.
Each of these have until now required at least half a dozen separate chips in a set-top box, NatSemi said.
The chip is based on the company's industry-standard x86 MediaGX processor core, a remnant of its failed bid to challenge Intel in the PC processor business.
Grundig, AOL, Acer, Gradiente, Legend, Philips and Wyse were among the companies that immediately said they would use Geode chips, NatSemi said.
NatSemi said the chip, along with its sale of the Cyrix PC processor unit to VIA in June, would help it return to profitability.
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