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Motorola speeds telecom chip

Motorola's new processor promises to allow makers of high-end communications equipment to roll out less-expensive products.

    Motorola's semiconductor unit rolled out a new processor today that promises to allow manufacturers of high-end communications equipment to make new products more quickly and at lower cost.

    Motorola's new chip now incorporates technology based on the PowerPC 603e chip, an older processor technology formerly found in desktop computers, along with a communications processing "engine" for use in network routers, remote access equipment, and cellular and telecom switching equipment.

    The company put technology formerly found on up to seven discrete chips onto the MPC8260, with the result that communications equipment makers can potentially build systems that could cost as much as 70 percent less to build than those using previous generation chips.

    The chip represents a step up in performance, too. Previous generation chips could handle 66 megabits per second (mbps) of data throughput; the new chip is capable of 710 mbps, Motorola claims. When used in digital subscriber line (DSL) equipment located in telecommunication company's central offices, the ability to handle more data would translate into more modems in a single unit at lower cost-which theoretically, in turn, could result in more affordable DSL service.

    Motorola said that companies examining the MPC8260 microprocessor for their next-generation systems include firms such as Alcatel, Bay Networks, Lucent Technologies, and other divisions of Motorola.

    "The 8260 is the biggest, fastest, most complex--and most costly--communications controller from the company so far," said senior chip analyst Jim Turley of the Microprocessor Report in a written brief. "The market's appetite for these chips seems insatiable," he wrote.

    Over half of the PowerPC chips shipped now go into networking equipment, with the remainder slated for the slower growth market forApple Computer's Macintosh computers.

    The MPC8260 PowerQUICC II microprocessors will be offered in sample quantities at the end of September, with volume production expected in the second quarter of 1999. Suggested pricing for a 133-MHz MPC8260 will be $105 in 10K quantities.

    Motorola's semiconductor sales totaled $8 billion in l997, according to the company.