Developments to Watch
THIS CHIP'S A CHAMP AT FULL-MOTION VIDEO
Painting a computer screen with detailed graphics images is a time-consuming chore. That's why personal computers need help to handle full-motion images like TV signals, which require the screen to be painted at least 30 times a second. Normally, the assist comes in the form of a special video processor and extra memory chips on a plug-in card. But Linden Technology, an Austin (Tex.) startup, thinks there's a better way: Combine the memory and logic circuits on one chip, so signals don't have to flit so far back and forth.
With these hybrid logic-in-memory chips, Linden President Lewis Larsen asserts that PCs can be built with the graphics power of a workstation from Silicon Graphics Inc.--at one-third the cost. "The big chipmakers think we're crazy," says Larsen, "but we see a $30 chip that can push 1,000 MIPS [millions of instructions per second]," or several times the speed of other microprocessors, "and render full-motion virtual reality scenes at TV rates." The chips will be produced by Alliance Semiconductor Corp. in San Jose, Calif., which also has been working on its own logic-and-memory combination chip. That chip is at least a year from introduction, and it's for "a totally different application," says Alliance President N. Damodar Reddy. "But we're satisfied that both it and Linden's logic-in-memory technology are very doable."