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<p>Fairchild called the new offices a milestone” in its expansion plan and said they will help the company increase the $150 million business it has already established in China. Moreover, the company said China's recent move toward World Trade Organization membership could accelerate market expansion, opening even greater opportunity for Fairchild.</p>

Beating Inshoni and other competitors to the punch, Broadcom Corp., Irvine, Calif., has a device that combines an 80-MHz RISC chip, cable modem, 10/100-Mbit/s Ethernet IC, and a home-networking IC. The BCM3350 chip is available for $50 in 10,000-unit lots in a 352-pin BGA package.

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — On the heels of an outpouring of second-generation vestigial-sideband (VSB) demodulators, Oren Semiconductor Inc. has launched its own second-generation VSB chip, the DSP-equipped OR51210, with promises to improve indoor reception of digital TV signals.

Oren claims that its solution is the first to use a programmable DSP rather than fixed-pipeline signal processing circuitry that is hard to change. The device uses adaptable filter blocks controlled by a central digital signal processor.

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Armed with newly improved microcode, Oren's VSB chip offers a ghost coverage range of –4.5 to 44.6 microseconds, enabling it to resolve dynamic ghost problems and co-channel interference.

The chip also eliminates the need for an external microcontroller, since the programmable DSP can reconfigure on the fly all the parameters of the built-in demodulator, matched filter, adaptive equalizer and forward error correction circuitry.

Its internal microcode, running on the DSP, is designed to handle all aspects of operation, including channel type detection, filter training and reacquisition upon loss of signal.

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There is no such thing as a 'good enough' VSB demodulator chip,” said Craig Wiley, director of marketing at Oren, because in the digital domain, ghosts do not just degrade TV signals, but cause a complete picture loss. That's why some people in the industry were shocked to discover drastically different levels of performances in signal reception among first-generation DTV receivers, he said.

Stable microcode

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Oren engineers made major improvements to their previous VSB device, Wiley said. Newly integrated on-chip are an analog-to-digital converter, a longer equalizer and an improved and now-stable microcode.

The chip uses a 576-tap full adaptive equalizer, instead of sparse-tap. Oren engineers concluded that sparse-tap solutions couldn't do the job adequately. Wiley said, Sparse-tapped equalizers will face problems on the field.”

What you're seeing is a function of the fact that these stocks have risen so far,” said Tim Summers, a semiconductor equipment analyst at financial researcher Advest Inc. in Chicago. Many of these stocks are approaching — and even exceeding — $100 a share.”

During the industry's 1998 depression, semiconductor capital equipment stocks were battered even more than their chip-making brethren's counterparts. KLA-Tencor, the San Jose-based wafer metrology systems maker, whose stock price was at $23 in October, began trading today at $98 and even hit $101, according to Summers.

That prices them out of the range of the retail investor — or at least that's the perception of the companies' management,” according to Summers. By increasing the number of stocks to bring per-share price down, it makes the retail investor feel like they can participate.”

Gus Pinto, senior director of business development in the corporate communications department at KLA-Tencor that stocks priced above $100 a share often are not purchased by mutal funds.

If they are above $100, they will be seen as too pricey,” Pinto observed. It's not just capital equipment and semiconductor stock, but other companies, such as GE and Microsoft have announced stock splits too. All of these companies have been $100 per share, and if you want to maintain liquidity in the stock market and have a lot of people buy your stock, you must keep the price within their range.”