Hitachi, Ltd. and Equator Technologies, Inc. today announced a cooperative relationship in
the joint development and commercialization of the Media Processor Series, a high-end
multimedia processor platform that utilizes very long instruction word (VLIW) architecture.
The Media Processor Series will target multimedia product applications such as set-top
boxes, video editing systems, game machines, multimedia PCs, image processing systems for
industrial and medical applications, and network equipment. The first products will be shown
at COMDEX/Fall '98, that opens November 16 in Las Vegas, and will be launched in the last
quarter of 1998.
The Media Processor Series is based on a joint-development agreement the two companies
signed in January 1997. Under the agreement, the two companies have been jointly
developing very large-scale integrated circuits (VLSIs) and related software, including a
compiler and media library. In launching the products, Hitachi will produce the VLSIs, and
both companies will have worldwide marketing rights.
"We expect that the Media Processor Series, which is a result of Hitachi's VLIW technology
and advanced semiconductor process, will be utilized over a broad range of multimedia related
products. Hitachi, Ltd., in cooperation with Equator Technologies Inc., aims to make the
Media Processor Series a global de facto standard in the area of multimedia," says Mr.
Toshiakira Ikeda, general manager of the Strategic Business Development
Division/Information Group of Hitachi.
"Partnering early on with manufacturers of consumer digital products is a key to Equator
Technologies' success," states Ron Bell, Equator Technologies' chief executive officer. "Our
joint development agreement with Hitachi will enable both of us to supply consumer electronic
manufacturers with a media processor series that meets their needs. Ultimately, software tools
that allow multiple uses for the same architecture platform provide for a broad range of end
applications. The key differentiating factor for Equator is our early focus on both end
applications and software."
VLIW is a technology that enhances processor performance by increasing the number of
instructions that can be executed simultaneously, making it essential technology of the next
generation of processors. The architecture of the Media Processor Series is based on VLIW
technology, which enables significant improvement in multimedia functionality through the
inclusion of additional instructions for multimedia processing and multimedia peripherals
interface capabilities. The result is compatibility over a broad range of multimedia sectors that
include digital video processing, graphics processing, network processing and image
processing. The processor architecture design, based on a basic architecture developed by
Hitachi, has been improved by both companies.
An advanced compiler for simultaneous execution of the VLIW-level instructions will also be
provided to make the Media Processor Series a fully programmable platform. The compiler
has an extremely powerful scheduling function for parallel instruction implementation and
eliminates the need for software developers to use assembler code. This translates into shorter
development times and lower development costs.
With a 16-bit summing performance well above 3000 million multiply and accumulations
(MMAC) per second, the first product that the two companies plan to introduce is expected to
deliver a level of performance far ahead of rival products. The first product aims for high-end
digital signal processing (DSP) applications in such areas as video editing and image
processing, and is scheduled for market release in the last quarter of 1998, mainly by Equator
Technologies at first.
One promising digital TV related application of the Media Processor Series will be as an All
Format Decoder (AFD(TM)) software. AFD(TM) technology, which was developed by Hitachi
America, Ltd., enables all eighteen of the United States Advanced Television Systems
Committee (ATSC) formats, which include high-definition formats , to be converted to the
standard definition format. Therefore, a standard definition TV set thus equipped would be
able to receive high-definition broadcasts. Prototypes of the first media processor products
incorporating Hitachi AFD(TM) software will be demonstrated at the COMDEX/Fall '98.
In the second half of 1999 Hitachi and Equator plan to ship a version specifically for digital
TV applications that will offer an improved cost-performance ratio. Another version that
offers enhanced graphics support is planned for 2000. In this way, Hitachi and Equator intend
to continue to meet the diversifying needs of the digital convergence market.
Hitachi, Ltd., headquartered in Tokyo, Japan, is one of the world's leading global electronics
companies, with fiscal 1997 (ended March 31, 1998) consolidated sales of ¡ï8,417 billion
($63.8 billion*). The company manufactures and markets a wide range of products, including
computers, semiconductors, consumer products and power and industrial equipment. For
more information on Hitachi, Ltd., please visit Hitachi's Web site at http://www.hitachi.co.jp.
* At an exchange rate of 132 yen to the dollar.
Equator Technologies Inc. is a semiconductor systems company with offices in Austin, Texas;
Campbell, California; Seattle, Washington, and Tokyo, Japan. Formed in 1996, Equator
develops and sells semiconductors, applications and systems software, and reference designs.
Equator Technologies Inc. successfully develops and implements VLIW software-
programmable media processor series platforms. Visit Equator at http://www.equator.com.