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Japanese Chipmakers Make A Splash In San Francisco


Developments to Watch

JAPANESE CHIPMAKERS MAKE A SPLASH IN SAN FRANCISCO

The chip giants of Japan continue to expand well beyond their traditional base in mass-produced memory chips. That was evident in papers prepared for the International Solid State Circuits Conference held in San Francisco on Feb. 16-18. Japan's top players trumpeted an impressive string of industry firsts--mostly in fields unrelated to conventional memory devices.

NEC Corp. described a prototype 32-bit reduced instruction-set computing (RISC) microprocessor that is low in power consumption yet runs at a staggering 500 million cycles per second--nearly double the clock speed of today's fastest commercial processors. In the red-hot field of video-signal processing, Toshiba Corp. unveiled a chip for reconstructing high-definition TV images that have been compressed during transmission or storage. Toshiba's chip doubles conventional decoding speed by combining two processing units that work in parallel. Fujitsu Ltd., meanwhile, showed an ultrasmall indium gallium arsenide transistor that relies on quantum physics to store and switch data. According to Richard A. Kiehl, an American who is an assistant research manager at Fujitsu, his company's "resonant tunneling hot-electron transistor" is closer to commercialization than any other type of quantum-effect transistor.EDITED BY PETER COY


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