SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Attempting to make its way on the comeback trail, NeoMagic Corp. today announced the first in a family of chips for next-generation handheld appliances and other portable products.
The new MiMagic line of chips are systems-level products based on a 32-bit RISC processor core from Mips Technologies Inc. Based on the Linux operating system, the chip line also includes other components on the same device, such as embedded DRAM, graphics, audio, video, Universal Serial Bus, and peripherals.
The initial chips are based on Mips' RISC core. But in the future, the company plans to offer the chip line based on ARM Ltd.'s 32-bit RISC processor core as well, said Mark Singer, vice president of marketing for NeoMagic in Santa Clara.
"We expect to offer multiple processor architectures," Singer said. "We will also offer multiple operating systems as well," he said in an interview.
The new chip line also represents a new direction for the company. NeoMagic made its mark by competing in the graphics-chip market for PCs, notably notebooks and related products. But recently, the company switched gears after a series of setbacks, including product delays for its graphics-chip lines.
The shift in strategy comes as NeoMagic's revenues quickly evaporate. In May, the company posted revenues of just $80,000 for the fiscal quarter ended April 30, compared to $38.9 million in the period last year (see May 24 story).
"The PC graphics market was kind of like running on a tread mill," Singer said. "So, we decided to shift to a new strategy a year ago."
As part of its new direction, the company will focus on selling chips for three basic types of products: handheld communications systems, entertainment devices, and PDAs/Internet appliances.
The market for Internet appliances such as PDAs, WebPads, handheld game systems, and data-enabled cell phones will grow to more than 175 million units by 2004, according to International Data Corp.
Initially, NeoMagic will offer two chip lines. The first chip, dubbed the MiMagic NMS7040, is based on Mips' MIPS32 4Kc CPU core.
Based around a 128-bit hardware engine, the NMS7040 also includes a 256-bit wide memory bus to the 4-MBytes embedded DRAM on the chip. On-chip data bandwidth is up to 3.2-Gbytes-per-second.
The chip can interface to a wide range of displays. The chip supports color display resolutions up to 1024 x 768 pixels. It can also interface to an external AC-97 compatible audio CODEC.
The second product, called the MiMagic NMS7041, adds 3D acceleration to the chip line. The chip features a 16-bit Z buffer for depth processing, texture mapping, and related functions.
Based on a 0.20-micron technology, the chip line is fabricated in a low-power DRAM process at Infineon Technologies AG. The chips from NeoMagic will begin sampling within weeks.
Initial samples will come in a 329-pin PBGA package, with a 23- x 23-mm micro BGA package planned by year's end. Pricing for 100-piece quantities will be $35 for the MiMagic NMS7040, and $50 for the MiMagic NMS7041.