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April 9, 1996


By CBR Staff Writer

Video compression pioneer C-Cube had another of its sweeping product revolutions,sticking with its proprietary risc architecture to squeeze one more generation of video risc processors before shifting its chip technology over to the Sparc risc technology that it signed from Sun Microsystems Sparc Technology in November which it will introduce in its next generation due in 1997. This announcement boasts no less than three new real-time MPEG2 encoders, for digital video broadcast, for storage and for PC authoring environments, each claimed twice as fast as their predessor. C-Cube also announced news of a major design win in Europe, supplying the chip compression technology for Germany’s first digital television system, expected to take digital tv into over 1.5 million homes over the next two years. The news didn’t exactly set the C-Cube shares alight, but they have already recovered from the bashing taken last month on the back of IBM’s announcement to join the MPEG chip market with a product that is largely accepted as being 12 months late and not up to handling broadcast video encoding and more at home in the CD-Rom and PC markets.On that day the IBM announcement had shaved 27% off C-Cube’s share price but the company said with intense re-education of Wall Street the share price has gradually righted itself, finishing at 56 yesterday, barely moving on the new product news. C-Cube was one of the driving forces behind the video compression MPEG standard and retains many of the original proprietary patents behind implementing MPEG in all of its forms. This technology has formed the basis of licences to companies such as Compression Labs, DiviCom, Optivision, Sony, Pioneer, NEC and Scientific- Atlanta, as well as Hyundai’s TV/Com; BetaMedia Services and Nokia, the three companies putting the German service together that is announced today. Most previous satellite tv services launched have relied on analog technology with the exception of the Hughes driven Direct TV in the US, which also relies on C- Cube for its real-time encoding. The three new chips are dubbed the CLM4740 MPEG-2 Broadcast Video Encoder; the CLM4720 MPEG-2 Video Storage Encoder and the CLM4440 Video Authoring Encoder, are available at $6,000, $1,950 and $780 respectively and are all sampling immediately. Fabrication is handled by a number of Far East fabricators including Matsushita, Yamaha and TSMC of Taiwan.

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