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Equator readies entry into media processor market

MAP1000 implements DSP functionality through C-programmable core

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US chip developer Equator Technologies is set to unveil its MAP1000 media processor this week. Its unique selling point: the chip delivers DSP and ASIC functionality through software written in a high level language. Equator's chip is provides hardware developers with a platform through which functionality like MPEG decoding and 3D graphics engines can be developed and, more importantly, quickly revised and updated through software. If Equator has its way, MAP1000 will replace the hardwired chips currently being used in digital TVs, set-top boxes, printers, and other peripheral devices and consumer electronics systems. The chip features built-in 230MHz RAMDAC, NTSC/RGB display controller, real-time video scaler, video transport channel interface and AC link for audio codec. In essence, it's halfway between a full-blown microprocessor and a DSP -- imagine a kind of trimmed down AltiVec-based PowerPC or 3D Now!-equipped K6-2. The idea is to bring the flexibility of mainstream software development with the tight focus of dedicated chips. Equator supplies the chip with development tools and reference materials to allow developers to quickly roll-out relatively simple apps like MPEG stream manipulation. The processor component is derived from Hitachi's Very Long Instruction Word (VLIW) development word, and Equator has financial backing from the Japanese giant. It also supports partitioned SIMD (Single Instruction, Multiple Dispatch) operations, has a clock speed of 200MHz and is based on 0.25-micron technology. Equator claims it can process 3.2 billion MAC 16-bit multiply/add operations, 1.6 billion 32-bit floating-point operations and 20 billion pixel-level operations per second. The MAP1000 also supports up to 64MB of external SDRAM/SGRAM at speeds over 130MHz. ®

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