Chip makers take networks home
October 8, 1998
(IDG) -- Semiconductor manufacturers have discovered home networking. Lucent Technologies on Tuesday announced Home Wire, a family of communications chips for home networking. Rockwell Semiconductor Systems will quickly follow, announcing on Wednesday that it has products to fulfill its promise of home networking chips, made in June.
AMD also announced in June that it will deliver single-chip, low-cost silicon home networking implementations, promising samples in the fourth quarter. Intel started shipping samples of its single-chip home networking chip to PC and peripheral manufacturers last month.
All of these companies are members of the Home Phoneline Networking Alliance (HomePNA, www.homepna.org), which is developing home networking standards. The HomePNA has selected Tut Systems' 1Mbps networking technology as the basis for a first-generation home networking specification. Intel is a minority investor in Tut Systems.
The HomePNA will define a technology road map for a next-generation, backward-compatible specification that reaches to 10Mbps and beyond, and will submit these specifications to industry standards bodies.
Additionally, the HomePNA will work to ensure product interoperability, coexistence with complementary in-home solutions such as those being developed by the HomeRF group, and compatibility with Internet access technologies such as 56Kbps V.90 and the emerging "always on" splitterless 1.5Mbps Universal Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL) standard.
Rockwell plans a family of multifunction chip sets that will provide a combination of home networking plus 56Kbps V.90 and ADSL modem capability. Rockwell's first product provides a combination of home networking and V.90 modem capabilities.
Future products will provide increasing levels of connectivity, including built-in support for ADSL, said Jim Muth, product line manager for home networking at Rockwell. This will allowing a user to simultaneously use the telephone, transmit home networking data, and access the Internet, he noted.
Muth foresees work-at-home notebook computer users plugging their office computers into a home network to share a printer or connect to the Internet. Notebook computer suppliers are already asking Rockwell about putting a home networking ship on a PCI card inside the PC, he said.
Lucent's Home Wire family of communications chips for home networking also will combine home networking capabilities with V.90 and ADSL modems. They will be available in the first quarter of 1999.
In the second half of 1999, Home Wire will provide home networking data transfer rates as fast as 10Mbps, according to the company.
These home networking chips comply with HomeRun technology licensed from HomePNA founding member Tut Systems. HomeRun taps into ordinary copper phone wire.
Advanced Micro Devices Inc., in Sunnyvale, Calif., is at www.amd.com. Intel Corp., in Santa Clara, Calif., is at www.intel.com. Lucent Technologies Microelectronics Group, in Allentown, Pa., is at www.lucent.com. Rockwell Semiconductor Systems, in Newport Beach, Calif., is at www.rss.rockwell.com.
Andy Santoni is a senior writer for InfoWorld.
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