Taiwanese board-maker is Motorola's first MacOS sub-licensee

Motorola Computer has entered into its first Macintosh operating system sub-licensing agreement by signing a letter of intent with Taiwanese OEM motherboard maker Soyo Computer.

Soyo, a medium-sized Taiwanese motherboard producer, later this year will become a worldwide MacOS sub-licensee after the agreement is finalised, officials say.

The agreement will boost the overall market share of the MacOS in previously largely untapped areas such as Asia, says Kevin Meyer, vice-president and director, Asia-Pacific and Japan operations, who signed the agreement on MCG's behalf.

"We hope to develop a model with this agreement with Soyo that we later can leverage with other sub-licensees to further extend our relationship with Apple," says Meyer.

Motorola received the sub-licensing rights from Cupertino, California-based Apple, the owner of the MacOS, in February of this year. Motorola's PowerPC Alliance partner IBM Microelectronics, meanwhile, last month beat MCG to the punch by announcing two MacOS sublicensees, Taiwan-based Tatung and Datatech Enterprises, of the US.

Umax Data Systems in November last year became Taiwan's first Mac OS licensee, and the only Taiwanese vendor to date to sign a deal directly with Apple.

Soyo officials say that by the Comdex/Fall show, held in Las Vegas in November, the company aims to begin volume deliveries of MacOS-compliant motherboards based on the PowerPC Platform (also known as the Common Hardware Reference Platform or CHRP) architecture.

Andy Chu, president of Soyo, says that the company by year's end expects to see CHRP-based boards make up some 25% of its monthly production capacity of 160,000 motherboards.

"We will concentrate on selling our boards to OEM customers who want to build Mac clones," says Allan Chang, Soyo's vice-president, technical marketing division. Soyo will sell the boards to OEMs through value-added resellers as well as its subsidiaries in Germany, Hong Kong, the Netherlands, South Korea and the US, he says.

The first batch of Soyo's CHRP boards will support low-voltage PowerPC 603e and 604e processors running at clock-speeds up to 200 MHz, that will be priced some 15% to 20% lower than similar offerings from existing suppliers, such as Motorola, says Chang.

In addition, Soyo also plans to supply CHRP-based boards bundled with Microsoft's Windows NT operating system, says Chang.

"That's the beauty of CHRP. We want to supply boards bundled with different industry-standard operating systems, such as the MacOS, NT or even Unix," says Chang. The CHRP platform will also support IBM's AIX and SunSoft's Solaris operating systems.

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