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PC World

Rise eyes set-top and specialty boxes


November 17, 1999
Web posted at: 10:59 a.m. EST (1559 GMT)

by Tom Mainelli

LAS VEGAS (IDG) -- Sidestepping the brutal mainstream desktop and notebook processor markets where Intel and AMD are slugging it out, Rise Technology executives say the company will instead focus its low-power, low-cost processors on set-top box and specialty portable manufacturers.

At Comdex here Monday, Rise also announced that its latest x86-compatible processor, the 2.0V version of the mP6 chip, will power an upcoming set-top box from Stellar One and a portable computer for schoolchildren from NetSchools. Rise technology has also found its way into a Microsoft Windows CE-driven reference set-top box destined for the Chinese market.

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Ceding Intel's dominance in the major markets, Rise has decided to go with its strengths, says David Lin, chair and chief executive officer. The company will focus its attention in areas where it can be successful.

"Low power consumption is the key" for many new set-top boxes and other devices, and Rise can fit that bill, Lin notes. The mP6 chip is ideal for devices with design restrictions that limit heat elimination, such as lacking fans. Or it can power units that need to run for long periods on a single charge. The latest Rise mP6 processor incorporates .18 micron technology and the company claims the chip consumes less power -- about 4 watts -- than other x86-based processors.

Low power, long life

Low heat and long run times made the mP6 attractive to NetSchools, a company that sets up infrared networks for schools, says Mike Kelley, sales manager for Rise in North America.

"They chose Rise because the notebooks are sealed and have no ventilation," he says. Plus, they wanted a processor that would let the kids use the machines all day on a single charge. The NetSchool units with the mP6 processors are set to operate at 200 MHz and will require only 3 watts, he says.

The ConnectTV set-top box uses software based on Windows NT and Internet Explorer and will offer video on demand, Internet, and e-mail access, and other capabilities, according to Vicky Moore, mechanical designer for Stellar One. For now the device is destined for hotels, hospitals, and other sites that offer the server-based, broadband infrastructure necessary to support high bandwidth operations. In the future, a variation of the device may find its way to consumers, she says.

The Windows CE-driven set-top box, code-named Venus, is now only a reference model for Chinese manufacturers. It contains a hard drive, floppy disk drive, modem, and a CD-ROM or DVD-ROM drive. Models based on the design will let the average Chinese family convert their television into a functional PC, says Rise's Lin. It even incorporates technology that will make reading text on the television easier.

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Rise Technology Co.
NetSchools Corp.
Stellar One
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