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Xilinx licenses communications chip design

API NetWorks, which sells chip designs enabling use of the high-speed HyperTransport connection technology developed by AMD, has licensed its design to chipmaker Xilinx.

API NetWorks, a company that sells chip designs enabling use of the high-speed HyperTransport connection technology, has licensed its design to chipmaker Xilinx, the companies are scheduled to announce Monday.

Through the deal, HyperTransport features will become "part of their standard intellectual property library," said David Rich, general manager of API Networks. Under the agreement, Xilinx may see and modify the design, he said.

The deal highlights the growing adoption of HyperTransport in the networking market, where Xilinx products are most popular. Xilinx builds chips that can be programmed to perform a certain task, a feature desirable for companies creating prototypes or needing to bring a product to market quickly.

HyperTransport, developed by Advanced Micro Devices but now governed by a consortium, has been licensed by networking and computing companies. The technology connects chips with a few high-speed wires, but API believes it could also evolve to include a connector technology similar to the PCI technology in all computers.

AMD, Nvidia, Apple Computer and Sun Microsystems are interested in using HyperTransport within computers, but likely only to connect internal chips and not as a PCI replacement.

AMD isn't interested in developing a connector for HyperTransport, and indeed voted in favor of an Intel proposal variously called Arapahoe or 3GIO as a successor to PCI.

But API NetWorks is switching its efforts from being a server chip company to a network chip company, Rich said, and those customers need a connection technology. "It appears that AMD isn't interested in that, but we still see the people we talk to talking about a need for connectors," Rich said.

API NetWorks' first HyperTransport chip is the AP1011, which joins processors to PCI connections. The company demonstrated use of the chip along with a HyperTransport connector technology two weeks ago, Rich said.

AMD had considered developing a connector technology for HyperTransport but decided against it because of the compatibility-testing difficulties with an open design, said Gabriele Sartori, director of technology evangelism at AMD and president of the HyperTransport Technology Consortium.

API NetWorks, formerly known as Alpha Processor, sold the Alpha chips designed and used by Compaq Computer, but Compaq is abandoning the product line in favor of Intel's Itanium family of processors.

On Thursday, API NetWorks announced it would support Alpha designs through 2003 but that it's transferring employees to its networking chip division.

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