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NCs get PowerPC chip

IBM has announced a new low-power PowerPC processor for network computers.

IBM (IBM) announced Monday that it has a new processor in its PowerPC family of chips for network computers and other digital devices.

The PowerPC 403GCX chip will be used in NCs from Network Computing Devices, which also builds the Network Station, Big Blue's NC.

The low-power "controller" chip combines several functions, including data and memory management, on a single piece of silicon. Because of the chip's low power requirements, IBM is also aiming it at the emerging market for consumer devices such as set-top boxes, cable modems, and digital phones. U.S. Robotics has indicated interest in using it.

NCD used an earlier version of the chip in about 25,000 NCs it has already sold to customers under the Explora brand name.

IBM also slashed prices about 20 percent today on its PowerPC 400 series of chips. The price cuts affect the PowerPC 403GA, 403GB, 403GC, and 401GF chips.

The new 403GCX, which is pin-compatible with IBM's previously announced 403GC, is available in 50- and 66-MHz speeds. The 50-MHz version is priced at $37 in quantities of 10,000 and the faster chip costs $44.50 in similar quantities.

Other chip vendors are crowding into the NC market, too. Advanced RISC Machines chips are being used in some early NCs, Sun Microsystems has created a Java chip, and Oracle is expected to unveil NCs built with Intel chips in April.