Virata Melds Voice/Data in a Single Chip

SINGAPORE (07/04/2000) - Semiconductor supplier for broadband communications, Virata Corp., has unveiled a new family of integrated access device (IAD) chipsets which it said is the industry's first to support voice and data services on a single chip.

The Azurite family is the company's voice and data IAD chipsets that feature Virata's Helium or Beryllium semiconductors with its new Magnesium voice processing DSP (digital signal processor), voice algorithms, voice control systems, and network protocols.

"Magnesium marks Virata's entry into the voice processing semiconductor market, and enables us to deliver the benefits of our integrated software on silicon approach to telecommunications companies and end users," said Duncan Greatwood, vice president of marketing at Virata.

"For the first time, broad-band equipment suppliers can turn to one resource for a complete hardware and software solution for designing complex IADs," said Charles Cotton, chief executive officer, Virata.

Azurite allows organizations to significantly shorten time-to-market, and at a much lower cost than having to buy and piece the components together themselves, Greatwood said, and added that the company estimates that Azurite can help drive component costs down by 40 percent.

The Azurite 3000 series can be used with any digital subscriber line (DSL) physical-layer implementation including ADSL (asymmetric DSL) and SDSL (symmetric DSL), and is already embedded in Aztech, a Singapore-based modem manufacturer.

Virata provided for 50 percent of all DSL modems worldwide last year, a figure that is projected to increase to 70 percent by the end of this year, said Mike Gulett, president and chief operating officer, Virata. Demand for fast Internet access, or broadband access, and the need to integrate voice and data services have been the driving forces behind the growth of DSL, Greatwood said.

"In the long run, you'll find that DSL will be up to four times bigger than cable (modems) in terms of volume, although both technologies will have a role to play in the market," he said. DSL is typically favored over cable because the former is more cost-effective to deploy, and provides users with a dedicated line to the Internet, while cable is a shared medium, he explained.

Although DSL adoption in Asia has yet to match the level of that in the United States, "we are starting to see an increase in the deployment of DSL in the region", Greatwood noted.

"One of the things we're seeing in the United States is that we're driving down cost so much so that the service providers are giving DSL equipment for free (if users subscribe to their services)," he said.

While this has yet to reach Singapore, "it's perfectly possible that it will happen", especially as market competition intensifies and service providers need to find new ways of attracting customers, he added.

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