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Agere Blazes 1Gbps Chip

Communications chipmaker Agere Systems has created a new line of processors that speeds up the way data, music and video files get accessed and stored on a home or small business network.

Agere is releasing the portfolio, dubbed NASn01, to help home and small business users stream multimedia files at 1 gigabit (Gb) per second. The idea is that users want to share, store or view the content as fast as possible, making chip speed an important component, in addition to servers that offer content and devices that render it usable.

With NASn01, people in the same house or business can send digital content to and from digital media servers, network-attached storage (NAS) servers and routers.

Companies like Agere, rival Broadcom, and chipmaking kings Intel and AMD have been scrambling to offer more powerful processors that cater to multimedia tastes.

Allentown, Pa.'s, Agere said NASn01 is unique. Unlike software-based technologies that can degrade streaming performance, the NASn01 chips rely on hardware chip acceleration to make files zip around a network in a home or small business environment.

The architecture is distinct from other communications chips because the chips come with a traffic management arbitrator block that provides the acceleration from the hard drive to the network. The arbitrator distinguishes between traffic that needs to be guaranteed to arrive on time versus traffic that can be delayed and allocates bandwidth based on that data.

The chips, which support Gigabit Ethernet and USB 2.0 connectivity protocols, can pipe up to 64 multiple streams and preserve content through full RAID and several disk-drive configurations.

The chips house a SATA-1 storage controller to interface with up to eight hard disk drives.

The NASn01 chips are scheduled for general availability in July and are priced at $36 for 1,000-chip quantities.