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TI hitches a ride with new chip bus

Texas Instruments, producer of chatty chips for cellular phones, licenses the HyperTransport technology developed by Advanced Micro Devices.

Texas Instruments, producer of chatty chips for cellular phones, boarded the HyperTransport bandwagon Wednesday.

TI, best known for its DSP (digital signal processor) chips, licensed the new computer chip bus technology, developed by Advanced Micro Devices, for unspecified use. It is likely that TI will employ HyperTransport to link chips inside its cellular chipset products or possibly build it into future DSP chips. A computer bus provides a pipeline that allows components such as chips to exchange data.

AMD developed HyperTransport with multiprocessor servers in mind. However, the technology has been applied to PCs, networking equipment and many other areas as it offers a pathway between chips that is dedicated, instead of shared, and also wider, enabling more data to move between chips more quickly.

AMD licenses the technology for free in an attempt to establish it as an industry standard. To that end, it established the HyperTransport Technology Consortium, an independent entity charged with promoting and further developing the technology. AMD has also discussed plans to use HyperTransport in its own chips, starting with its Hammer family of desktop PC and server processors, due late next year.

So far, 40 or more companies have signed on, including API NetWorks, Apple Computer, Cisco Systems, PMC-Sierra, Nvidia, Sun Microsystems, Transmeta and most recently SGI.

Graphics chipmaker Nvidia, for example, uses HyperTransport in its new nForce chipset for desktop PCs based on AMD's Athlon processor. The chipset made its debut this week in systems from Micron PC. API NetWorks has also launched a new switch, Starfish AP4041, based on HyperTransport. The switch, whose potential uses include Internet or networked storage, is slated for production in summer 2002.

Some in the industry initially saw HyperTransport as a successor to PCI technology, but 3GIO, a similar technology developed by Intel, has made gains as the eventual successor to PCI, the longtime standard for connecting devices such as graphics cards and network cards to computers.