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IBM strengthens multimedia technology

IBM will use powerful multimedia technologies run by a new media processor in its commercial desktops.

IBM is planning to use powerful multimedia technologies run by a new parallel-processing media processor in its upcoming commercial desktops and other PC lines.

Media processors are co-processors that work in conjunction with the main Intel processor to accelerate multimedia applications. The new media processor technology will deliver dramatic increases in performance over IBM's Mwave media processors, currently found in the company's Aptiva line of consumer PCs, commercial desktops, and the ThinkPad line of notebook PCs, according to R.M. Judge, a manager in the commerical desktop group at IBM.

"This will be a big [processing] engine. It will allow me to do MPEG processing and videoconferencing at the same time. It takes advantage of Intel's MMX but goes way beyond it," Judge added. The chip will use a number of individual digital signal processors integrated to work together, a technique that will in effect provide parallel processing, he added.

Intel's planned MMX enhanced processors will deliver higher performance than plain-vanilla Pentiums and Pentium Pros when running multimedia applications.

IBM would not disclose a definite time frame for the roll-out of this technology. But the company there will be a combined circuit board with SCSI, media processors, and 1394 networking technology for connecting PCs directly to consumer electronics devices targeted at mainstream adoption sometime in 1997. It will initially be offered on an add-in card but eventually be part of the motherboard, according to the company.

The 1394 technology will be used on its own in IBM desktops PCs as early as this summer for selected customers. The company envisions the technology being widely used for videoconferencing, high-performance I/O, and a DVD-ROM drive interface, as well as multimedia processing.

The 1394 specification is also being adopted by companies such as Compaq, Texas Instruments , and Sony.

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