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Texas Instruments Chips To Support Real

During the Consumer Electronics Show this past weekend, Texas Instruments (www.texasinstruments.com) announced a deal with RealNetworks ( www.realnetworks.com) to support RealAudio and RealVideo in its programmable digital signal processors (DSPs). This agreement will enable Real to offer its format on wireless and other consumer devices that require a low-power hardware solution.

"With today's announcement, RealNetworks is extending RealPlayer, the world's most popular Internet media player, to a new range of consumer wireless and digital audio and video devices," said Len Jordan, senior vice president of consumer products at RealNetworks.

TI says it chose RealNetworks because of its "market-leading" platform. It will include the DSPs in applications like wireless phones, PDA and consumer-level devices. Currently, Texas Instrument's DSPs have been chosen by eight of the top 10 consumer electronics manufacturers, including Sony, RCA, Sanyo, Samsung, Toshiba and LG Electronics.

TI is preparing its chipset for the widest market reach possible. In March of the past year, Packet Video announced that its streaming software included support for TI's Open Multimedia Application Platform (OMAP). TI's programmable DSP technology enables the OMAP software.

According to Chris SchairbaumNew Business Development Mananger at Texas Instruments, RealNetworks support won't be embedded into the chip. "It will run on top of the chip, just like Microsoft Word runs on top of Intel. We have to port the software to make sure it runs on the TI chip."

Schairbaum said that it is receiving RealNetworks' Software Development Kit (SDK) later this month and expects the first demo to happen around the second quarter of 2001.

Texas Instrument's DSPs have already supported MP3 and Microsoft's Windows Media format. Sean Alexander, senior product manager at Microsoft, called this announcement a "catch up move" by RealNetworks.

Microsoft had it own announcements. During a keynote this past weekend, Microsoft chairman Bill Gates, showed off new portable music devices. Microsoft also announced that 11 new devices, ranging from portable audio players and CD players to new hardware devices, are now using Windows Media. Companies that announced support include E.Digital, Frontier Labs, Nakamichi, Rio, SongPro.com and Thomson Multimedia. Even Intel's new player, called the Pocket Concert Audio Player, which has 128MB of memory and an FM radio tuner, also supports Windows Media.

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