They've Got The Whole World On A Chip

Systems-on-a-chip. For decades, the term has stirred visions of Dick Tracy multimedia watches and other wonders. Such products remain the exception, and all fall short of the gee-whiz category--but maybe not for long. The number of transistors per chip is skyrocketing, so each can handle more work than ever. And new computer-aided design tools make it feasible to make custom chips relatively fast. As a result, says Motorola Inc. Vice-President Thomas A. Beaver, "there's a paradigm shift going on." The hand-holding service that once was "reserved for only the biggest customers, we're going to make available to almost everyone."

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