Equator's Silicon Fit to Ship


Equator Technologies Inc. has unveiled a family of software-based broadband
processors designed to operate inside set-tops at multiple frequencies and to
drive bandwidth-intensive applications such as video-on-demand.

Instead of handling upgrades via chip-set replacements, Equator's approach is
to update its silicon through software downloads as new MPEG (Moving Picture
Expert Group) standards and other codecs emerge.

Equator's product, the 'MAP-CA,' operates at four speed bands ranging from
256 megahertz to 297 MHz. That flexibility will enable Equator to give its
manufacturing customers a variety of prices and processing power from which to
choose, Equator president and CEO Avi Katz said.

Depending on the processor's speed and the volume ordered, MAP-CA chips carry
a price of $40-$100 apiece, the company said.

The company introduced the MAP-CA about a year ago, promising that its
software-driven silicon 'is going to drive a stake in the heart of the hardwired
devices and just obsolete them all at once,' company cofounder John Setel
O'Donnell said at the time.

Last year, the MAP-CA was more of a concept than a product, Katz admitted.
'We are ramping up production today,' he said.

Equator has yet to announce any set-top manufacturers that will use its
silicon. Katz said customers could be named in time for next month's National
Association of Broadcasters confab.

Equator finds itself in a highly crowded and competitive field dominated by
big-name, hardwired incumbents such as Broadcom Corp., C-Cube Microsystems Inc.
and Conexant Systems Inc. Philips Semiconductors, meanwhile, has developed a
software-based chip set for cable boxes.