Digital Equipment and Oracle's Network Computer (NCI) subsidiary have unveiled plans for a network computer reference design, based on Digital Semiconductor?s low cost Strongarm microprocessor.
This is Digital's first major move in the fashionable NC arena, although there have been four previous reference design initiatives, based on various processors, since the NC craze first hit in 1995. Digital has been waiting in the wings to see whether the concept catches on.
The systems giant claims its reference design differs from other NC specs by offering a higher degree of interoperability with existing PCs. The company has no plans to manufacture its own NCs but was able to confirm that two OEMs, Japanese Funai Electric and US based Aranex, have committed to build the systems.
NCI will provide enabling software for the new appliances, which will be available in volume later this spring. It will provide NC Access, a suite of applications that gives access to the Web, electronic mail, scheduling, news services and multimedia capabilities.
Digital Semiconductor introduced the Strongarm microchip about a year ago as a result of a licensing agreement with Advanced Risc Machines. The company claims its chip combines ARM?s low power architecture with Digital's experience in building high performance processors. The chip offers desktop-type performance but sufficiently low power dissipation to run on AA batteries. Digital is pushing the chip into PDA (personal digital assistant), set-top box and Web terminal markets.
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