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Motorola unveils chattier chip

The company asserts that its PowerQUICC III is the first in a new family of communications chips that can process data more quickly and thus speed up networking equipment.

Motorola introduced a more talkative chip on Monday.

The company asserts that its PowerQUICC III is the first in a new family of communications chips that can process data more quickly and thus speed up networking equipment.

The new chip is based on Motorola's PowerPC MPC8560--the latest version of its e500 processor, which is also known as the G5.

Motorola said that a performance boost in the 8560 processor core, which runs between 600MHz and 1GHz, as well as enhancements to the PowerQUICC communications processor module, will allow the new chip to translate data between network protocols or to process calls more quickly, boosting network performance.

The new chip comes at a time when the markets for semiconductors and network equipment are still slow, recovering from the downturn of 2001.

Motorola hopes to use the performance boost to move the new chip into high-end equipment. The company is looking to get the PowerQUICC III into high-end routers and base stations for 2.5G and 3G cellular networks, representatives said.

Though Motorola may be best known for producing the PowerPC chips found in Apple Computer's Macs, the chipmaker sells the majority of it chips to communications equipment makers.

Its PowerQUICC II chip, for example, is used widely by DSL modem makers.

Motorola has shipped more than 100 million communications processors--many of them from the PowerQUICC line--to 350 customers, the company said. It claims the top spot in that category with 74.7 percent market share, according to a recent report by market researcher Gartner.

Meanwhile, Motorola is working with about a dozen customers, who are expected to introduce products based on PowerQUICC III in coming months.