TAIPEI, Taiwan Agere Systems is seeding the PC market with a new combination of 1394 silicon that should offer board makers greater flexibility in migrating from the 400 Mbit per second version of the standard to the less popular 800 Mbit version.
By the end of 2006, more than 5 million PCs will have shipped with 1394b, just a fraction of the market. The cheaper 480 Mbit per second USB2.0 spec has so far dominated the market, even against 1394a, and especially in power sensitive notebook PCs. But as applications typically used by high-end desktop PC users, such as editing and storage of uncompressed video, begin to trickle down to the mainstream, demand should increase for high-capacity external SATA drives that use 1394b.
Until now, the 1394b market has mostly been dominated by one company, Texas Instruments, which last week said it was moving more aggressively to enable 1394b in the notebook PC market with an open host controller interface that stacks link and physical layer communications chips onto one 7- by 7-mm package.
Another boost will come when Microsoft Corp. integrates native support for 1394b in its forthcoming Vista OS. The company reiterated at its Windows Hardware Engineering Conference last week that shortly after the initial release of Vista it will add in 1394b support via a service pack update. Currently in Windows XP, when users slot in CardBus adapters for 1394b, the OS throttles back the data rate to 1394a’s 400-Mbits-second speed, forcing users to employ an end-around.
Separately, Agere is also rolling out a USB2.0-based modem this week that it claims will save 80 percent of the space used for routing traces in older PCI-based modems. The SV92U2 will come in three flavors: an internal modem that directly replaces the PCI modem, an external USB dongle and a mini-card option.