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IBM, TI and others go for HyperTransport

Big Blue, Texas Instruments, EMC and four others are joining the HyperTransport consortium, a move that will likely expand the places where the chip-to-chip connection gets used.

IBM, Texas Instruments, EMC and four other companies are joining the HyperTransport consortium this week, a move that will likely expand the places where the chip-to-chip connection gets used.

HyperTransport is a protocol that, when embodied in silicon, shuttles data at a high rate of speed--6.4 gigabytes to 12.8 gigabytes per second--between different chips in the same box. It could be used to link a microprocessor with a chipset that organizes input/output functions, for example, or two communications processors in a router.

Advanced Micro Devices includes HyperTransport links on its Opteron processor. The Nvidia chipset inside Microsoft's Xbox also features a HyperTransport link.

The new members will essentially pave the way for HyperTransport to enter a wider variety of markets, said Bob Napaa, vice president of the consortium and vice president of marketing at Alliance Semiconductor. EMC and Network Appliance, which is also joining, are two of the larger companies in storage.

"We have major representation from every major industry," Napaa said.

Although the companies joining the group have not discussed their product plans, it is expected that all of them will come out with products that communicate through the protocol at some point, Napaa said.

"You can infer they will do it," Napaa said. Cisco Systems, one of the early members, will likely use HyperTransport, he added.

IBM, in fact, has already announced that it will include HyperTransport links in its PowerPC 970 chip, which is being included in Apple Computer's G5 Power Macs due later this month.

The protocol is royalty free, but companies are allowed to retain their own intellectual property, depending on the scope of their membership agreements.

IBM, for instance, has joined as an adaptor member. This means Big Blue has to pay $5,000 to join the organization. The company gets access to all of the intellectual property but cannot sit on the steering committees to influence the direction of the specification. In turn, however, IBM retains all rights to any intellectual property it develops independently.

Contributing members pay around $15,000 to $20,000 in dues, but they're represented in the committees.

Along with IBM, EMC, Network Appliance and TI, National Semiconductor, Media Fusion and LTX joined the group. The formal announcement comes Monday.