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Intel invests in Zayante – sign of support for 1394?

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Intel's investments division has just pumped an undisclosed sum into IEEE 1394 systems developer Zayante. But is it really, as Cahners' Electronic News Online suggests, a sign of Chipzilla's support for the connectivity standard?

ENO seems to think so, but it's a tenuous argument. Intel - like many wealthy hi-tech companies - puts spare cash to work by investing in a number of opportunities, many of them companies in areas it expects to develop into important markets. Last year, Intel made headlines by investing in various Linux operations - though since then the chip maker may have come to question the wisdom of buying Linux stock.

The Zayante investment follows the pattern. Intel has always said 1394 - aka FireWire and iLink - has a part to play in the consumer electronics space.

"Zayante has played a major roles in the development of the IEEE 1394 family of standards and with an extensive portfolio of 1394 technology, is now poised to make a major contribution to the fast growing 1394 market," was how Intel VP and CTO Pat 'Kicking' Gelsinger put it in Intel's statement on the matter.

However, Gelsinger's interest in 1394 has always been lukewarm. He prefers to tout his own company's 'alternative' bus, USB, and has frequently evangelised that technology as the future of PC-to-peripheral connectivity - and driven its development as a rival to 1394.

The ENO story - a thinly veiled puff for Cahners' research services - reckons the Zayante investment is a sign Chipzilla is getting off the fence on 1394. Why? Because it reckons the company now feels it's going to have to work with all connectivity standards, not just the ones it invented.

Yes, Intel will have to work in an increasingly 1394-connected world, but it doesn't follow that the Zayante investment is an indication the chip maker is going to do so, or that it's going to be any less fervent in promoting USB 2.0 to potential 1394 licensees.

In any case, Intel is already part of the 1394 patent pool - it snuck in around 18 months ago - so arguably doesn't need Zayante to give it a foothold in the 1394 world. That said, it may have since quit.

The proof of Intel's genuine support for 1394 won't come from the work of its in-house stock market watchers - it will come from Gelsinger and co. promoting a roadmap that has FireWire as an equal partner to USB. But we don't expect to see it anytime soon. ®

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Intel still stuck on the FireWire fence
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Intel snubs IEEE 1394 for USB 2.0

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