Intel unveils its first chip for embedded devices

Intel Corp. on Tuesday announced the first in a family of chips aimed specifically at the embedded device market, and made the reference design available immediately. Chips are scheduled to be available next month, the company said.

The Intel 820801E Communications I/O Controller Hub (C-ICH) is designed to be part of a chip set and to have multiple communication ports, thus cutting the need for a device to have separate networking chips, the company said in a statement. By reducing the number of chips used in a device, Intel hopes to simplify development of devices and reduce their overall cost. The new controller hub will work with chips ranging from Intel's 566MHz Celeron processors to the 1.2GHz Pentium III processor, Intel said.

Embedded computing devices are those that perform a specific task and can't be reprogrammed like a desktop PC. Examples of embedded devices are voice-over-IP (Internet Protocol), firewall, and VPN (Virtual Private Network) appliances.

The 82801E chip includes dual 10/100 Fast Ethernet controllers, as well as dual universal asynchronous receiver/transmitter (UART) ports, which let the processor communicate with attached serial devices, including modems.

Intel has also made a C-ICH reference design available for download from its Web site, aimed at providing developers with a basic design for a standard circuit board for use in a variety of networking devices, the company said.

The chip will be available from January, priced at US$15 in quantities of 10,000, Intel said.

More information about the chip, including the reference board design, can be found on the Web at http://developer.intel.com/platforms/applied/eiacomm/value3/value3.htm/.

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