Oxford Semis fires off fast interface fanfare

Oxford Semis fires off fast interface fanfare
Oxford has completed FireWire interface design and is readying several application specific devices with IEEE-1394 macros; three projects already under way. By David Manners Oxford Semiconductor of Abingdon is moving on the IEEE-1394 FireWire market. First silicon using the high speed consumer interface bus is due in mid-summer. FireWire is an interface fast enough to allow the continuous streaming of video. Consequently it is useful in ‘opening up the fuel line’ between PCs and equipment like camcorders or DVD players. It is expected to become the key consumer electronics bus for the 1999 market and beyond. Oxford Semiconductor has completed the interface design and is readying several application specific devices incorporating the 1394 macro. “We’ve done the macros. They are all ready and fully simulated and we are building them into applications,” Jalil Oraee, Oxford co-founder and technical director, told EW. The company now has three projects going: two for customers and one for an in-house proprietary chip. “We’re looking at mid-summer for working silicon,” added Oraee. The bulk of the FireWire market is still a year or two away. The chip which Oxford is developing for its own product portfolio is a 3 to 6 port PHY (physical layer) with a 1394A bus. That is just the start. “We’ll be addressing all aspects from low level physical to high level protocol,” said Oraee. The company is taking orders for custom chips which require the FireWire interface. Although the company is still mainly a design house – completing 40 Asic designs last year – its aim is to become a standard chip, own-brand company of the fabless model. It expects to reach a 50/50 custom/standard product split by 2001.


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