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Hybrid modems developed

U.S. Robotics and Texas Instruments will announce "hybrid" modems supporting both 56-kbps and ADSL high-speed technologies.

U.S. Robotics (USRX) and Texas Instruments (TXN) will announce a partnership Tuesday to deliver "hybrid" modems supporting both 56-kbps and ADSL high-speed technologies.

The new product family, dubbed "x2/DSL," will use TI's digital signal processing chips. This follows a major reorganization at TI to focus on DSPs, which are used extensively in communications and multimedia products and are particularly adept at processing these kinds of data.

The new TMS320C6x DSP chip is programmable and capable of processing 1.6 billion instructions per second. It will be the processing engine for the x2/DSL, the companies said.

USR's advanced development group will develop DSP software for x2/DSL and incorporate technology for ADSL recently licensed from Aware with its own x2 56-kbps technology. U.S. Robotics plans to introduce x2/DSL modems in the first half of next year.

While USR's x2 technology can deliver almost twice the connection speed of today's modems, ADSL promises transmission of data over existing telephone wiring at data rates several hundred times faster than today?s modems.

ADSL was specifically developed for the simultaneous delivery of voice, video, and data to the home. ADSL data rates are as high as 8 megabits per second (Mbps) to the user's modem, while "upstream"--data sent from the user's modem--rates can reach 1 Mbps.

Because modems with this technology are reprogrammable, "customers will have the freedom to choose when to upgrade...without having to throw away their investment in their modem or applications," the two companies said.

Microsoft announced its support, stating that the hybrid technology will "make the transition easier" to future high-speed ADSL communications, said Craig Mundie, senior vice president at Microsoft, in a prepared statement.

In a related development, TI said today that it has created a new product organization that will specifically target the remote access connection "at both ends of the wire." The new Access Products organization, housed within TI's networking business unit, will focus on DSPs, mixed-signal components, and networking hardware and software integration.

Areas that will benefit from the new TI business approach include routers, ATM (asynchronous transfer mode) backbone switches, remote access servers, ADSL modems, and voice applications, the company said.