Hardware makers line up with Intel-based NCs

A raft of hardware vendors showed support last week for the network computer (NC) running on Intel architecture. Among those getting in behind the NC is electronics giant Philips, which is targeting the Asia-Pacific market.

A raft of hardware vendors showed their support here last week for the network computer (NC) running on Intel architecture.

The vendors building Pentium-based clients that will hit the market in coming months include Funai Electric, networking vendor Accton Technology, cordless phone maker Uniden and Philips Business Electronics, a unit of the Netherlands-based electronics giant Philips.

Still others are expected to roll out NCs based on a StrongARM reference design offered by Digital, officials say.

Accton's first NC model is powered by Pentium procesors with clock speeds ranging from 133 MHz to 200 MHz, and will be marketed by both Accton and Oracle's Network Computer subsidiary under their respective brand names.

Accton and NCI will initially target the NC client at corporate and educational markets in Japan and the US, the companies say.

The client features 8Mb to 256Mb of extended data out RAM, 256Kb of synchronous RAM Level 2 cache, 126Kb or 256Kb of BIOS software, an S3 graphics accelerator with 1Mb of onboard video dynamic RAM (VDRAM), and a 16-bit stereo sound subsystem with line-in, line-out and microphone support, Accton says.

Network access is provided through a built-in MpX2 TX port. Other input/output ports include one serial port, a VGA monitor port, keyboard port. The model also offers support for a floppy drive as well as two optional IDE hard drives, the company says.

The Accton NC is designed specifically to connect users to the Internet using NCI's NC Access software and will initially ship with the NC operating system.

It is available at a retail price of below US$900. Cheaper models, priced at less than US$500, are scheduled to be available in the third quarter, and will feature x86 processors from Advanced Micro Devices, the companies say.

Accton later this year also expects to release other low-cost NC models designed specifically for running multimedia applications, officials say.

The Philips NC will be based on a 133-MHz Pentium and is expected to retail at less than US$700.

Philips expects to start shipments as early as June, and will initially target the NC client at Asia-Pacific markets, with Europe to follow, the company says.

The Philips NC line will support worldwide television display standards, such as PAL and NTSC, in addition to VGA, as well as standard network interfaces such as Fast Ethernet, the company says.

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