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Lucent, Motorola team on chips

The two companies will jointly design DSP chips for use in handheld wireless devices used for the Net and video cell phones.

Lucent Technologies and Motorola will work together on developing digital signal processors--powerful, specialized microprocessors commonly found in communications devices such as cell phones.

In an alliance announced today, Lucent's Microelectronics Group and Motorola's Semiconductor Products Sector will create a jointly run research and design center in the Atlanta area. The center, to be called Star*Core, should be operating by the third quarter of this year, the two companies said.

"The companies have complementary portfolios rich in DSP [digital signal processor] expertise and systems knowledge which, when combined, will make this design center a powerhouse for developing DSP technology," said Hector Ruiz, president of Motorola's semiconductor group, in a prepared statement.

Star*Core could complete its first design by mid-1999, according to Lucent and Motorola. But while the companies will collaborate on research work, the resulting "DSP core" designs will be incorporated into full-fledged DSP chips separately produced and marketed by the two companies.

A DSP core is a computing engine that's the main part of a larger chip customized for a specific application. DSPs, for example, process voice, data, and video signals. They are more adept than general purpose processors, such as Intel?s Pentium, at processing multimedia-rich signals.

In consumer products, the advanced DSP chips could be used in handheld wireless devices for browsing the Web, cellular phones with video capability, and devices with speech recognition capability.

Additionally, the two companies will cross-license existing DSP cores, and Lucent will license a related Motorola microcontroller technology.

Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.