Santa Clara, California-based National Semiconductor Corp has announced the second generation of its multifunction input-output interface chip for PC Cards. National InfoMover is fully compliant with the recently announced PC Card Multifunction Specification from the Personal Computer Memory Card International Association standards committee. Its multifunction interface enables any two functions, such as networking, pager, multimedia, Flash memory, sound and facsimile modem, to be designed into one PC Card and operate concurrently. Enabling cards to perform more than one function is seen as particularly attractive as there is a limit to the number of PC Card slots a portable can have. After a while, the computer can suffer from ‘slot crunch’ where there are not enough slots for all the functions the user would like to have. Multifunction cards have been designed to expand the capability of a personal computer to at least four functions, and give users the flexibility to customise their systems. The National InfoMover is the second release in a series of PC Card products from the company; the first, in spring 1994, was the PCM1600, which has an Ethernet interface and can be customised for another function. The current product, although targeted at general multifunction applications, can also operate in single-function design which NatSemi thinks PC Card makers will like as it means they can reduce the number of different parts they need to purchase and stock. The PCM16C02 incorporates necessary logic to interface with NAND Flash memory, which NatSemi also makes and is designed for file storage type applications. According to AP Research in Cupertino, California, 19m of the 53m personal and portable computers sold next year will have PC Card slots. The researcher goes on to say that PC Card slots and silicon are projected to be included in more than 95% of all portable computers by 1997. But all these figures quoted by companies pushing PC Cards seem much of a muchness. In March the PCMCIA was saying that by 1997 the percentage of personal computers that would have PC Card slots would be 88 (CI No 2,641). The National InfoMover PCM16C02 is available in production quantities now, packaged in a 100-pin Thin Quad Flat Pack, priced $9.65 when you buy 1,000 or more.
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