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October 11, 1995


By CBR Staff Writer

All the hottest properties at this year’s Microprocessor Forum are, not surprisingly, multimedia chips, and after six years of development, MicroUnity Systems Engineering Inc is finally ready to talk about its revolutionary media processor (CI No 2,512). Microsoft Corp has $15m in MicroUnity, and Tele-Communications Inc, Hewlett-Packard Co, US West Inc, Cray Research Inc and Motorola Inc are also all said to be backers of the secretive company. In addition to manufacturing its own chips in a $50m fab, Microunity has licensed its design to several other chip makers, and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co has reportedly already begun producing a lower-power version of the chip. Said at one time to be derived from Digital Equipment Corp’s Alpha RISC (CI No 1,821), the MicroUnity chip integrates 10.5m transistors and is clocked at a cookin’ 1GHz. It can issue up to four 128-bit-wide instructions simultaneously. MicroUnity has already developed prototype versions of cable set-top boxes, cable network modems and workstations based on the media processor. The firm was founded by John Moussouris, co-founder of MIPS Computer Systems Inc, and he claims that other microprocessors are inefficient for use in digital communications since they are designed for arithmetical computation and require assistance from numerous other processors to handle specific tasks such as frequency modulation, graphics processing and audio and video compression and decompression. Prototypes are not now expected until next year, with volume in 1997.

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