NEW YORK Inari Inc, a developer of chips that support networking over power lines, is sampling 2-Mbit/second silicon this month as part of a hardware development kit now available to system developers.
Inari (Draper, Utah), a spin-off of Novell Inc., is also at work on power line networking chips that will support 10-Mbit/s rates. The company plans to demonstrate the 10-Mbit/s chip at the Consumer Electronics Show in January and to ship it next year.
The 2-Mbit/s sample silicon is produced on a foundry basis by American Microsystems Inc. (Pocatello, Idaho), using a 0.35-micron process. The chip is suitable for use in network adapters and network cards, said Todd Frohnen, president and chief executive officer of Inari. Volume shipments of the 2-Mbit/s solution, named the IPL0201, will be available in September.
Thomson Multimedia SA (Paris), which holds a 5 percent sta ke in Inari, has announced plans to use the company's chips in future home networking products. Network adapters based on the AMI-produced chip will be introduced in the fourth quarter, Frohnen said.
Inari's hardware development kit includes three IPL0201 chips and three boards that serve as reference and development platforms. The kit will also feature firmware of MAC layer protocol, including Inari's quality-of-service and security features, multiplatform source code for device drivers and network administration software. The kit is available now for $2,000 and may be ordered from the Inari Web site.
A more-highly integrated version of Inari's power line networking chip will be made by Texas Instrument Inc., which will use a 0.18-micron process to produce the IPL0211 that will sample in the fourth quarter. Volume shipments are expected in the first quarter of 2001.
While the digital IPL0201 requires fo ur analog receivers to support USB and parallel ports in a network adapter application, the mixed-signal IPL0211 will integrate a D/A converter, a comparator and a USB core, which will eliminate the need for separate analog receivers, the company said.
Frohnen said the Thompson Multimedia design win, as well as a decision by Globespan Inc. (Red Bank, N.J.) to use Inari's silicon in DSL modems, are a vindication of the company's technology.
Inari is one of several vendors offering power line networking silicon. Frohnen said he is undaunted by the HomePlug Alliance's decision to back the 10-Mbit/s power line networking technology of Intellon Corp (Ocala, Fla.) as a standard. Allowing that a single standard for power line networking is in the interest of consumers, Frohnen said he believes "the price for 10-Mbit-per-second silicon may preclude it from getting to market."
In addition, the quality-of-service hooks and scalabil ity of Inari's silicon offers more than Intellon's solution, he said.