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National Semiconductor Launches Full-Featured Reference Platform for Advanced Set-Top Boxes

Speeds Production of Advanced Set-Top Boxes, Gives Customer Time-to-Market Advantage

Nov 7, 2000

November 7, 2000 - The competitive world of delivering services and interactivity to the living room got a boost today with the release of a reference platform that offers manufacturers a superset of flexible, complete silicon and software solutions for the interactive set-top box (STB) market.

Continuing its role as the technology leader in the advanced set-top box market, National Semiconductor Corporation (NYSE:NSM) today announced the availability of the National® Geode™ SP1SC10, a reference platform using the Geode SC1200 single-chip processor.  It will be shown at Comdex in booth L3005. Fully enabled for TV broadcast services enhanced with the Internet, time-delay recording, multimedia gateway, video-on-demand, and streaming video, the reference platform is an ideal development environment for the wide array of functions emerging in the advanced set-top box market. The platform supports Microsoft TV Advanced software and BSQUARE's SDK for Microsoft TV; Microsoft Windows CE; Liberate's TV Navigator; WindRiver's VxWorks; and Linux operating systems.

"The digital set-top box market is growing rapidly, and the interactive television market is right on its heels," said David Pederson, director of National's set-top box business unit. "Service providers are developing their customer bases and are demanding advanced functionality from their box manufacturers.  The Geode processor is the market leader, and our new reference platform offers manufacturers the complete silicon and software solution needed to quickly design a box with one or more advanced features."

The set-top box converts the family television into an information appliance, seamlessly integrating digital and interactive television; Internet browsing and email; and video on demand.  The Geode SP1SC10 reference platform leverages National's core competencies, integrating National analog chips with the Geode x86 processor.  Additional hardware and software from partner companies completes the development kit and provides a fully-functional, flexible blueprint for manufacturers.

"National has worked closely with our partner companies to provide the breadth of silicon and software products required for a set-top box," said Yosi Brosh, manager of National's Set-Top Box Business Unit.  "In addition to the cost- and time-savings in the design cycle, the collaboration of the partner companies means that components are optimized to work together."

National contracted with Inprimis Technologies Inc. to design the Geode SP1SC10. Inprimis Technologies, a wholly owned subsidiary of Inprimis Inc. (Nasdaq:INPM), provides hardware and software design services for interactive TV set-top boxes and other Internet/information appliances.

"We are proud to continue our close working relationship with National Semiconductor," said Larry Light, chief operating officer of Inprimis. "For the Geode SP1SC10, we created a reference platform that can be easily customized to allow manufacturers to quickly and cost effectively develop and deploy interactive TV set-top boxes using the new processor."

Inprimis worked closely with National's software partners to create a cohesive solution for advanced set-top boxes.

"Microsoft and National are working together to deliver a software and hardware combination optimized to support enhanced TV services," said Alan Yates, vice president of sales and marketing for Microsoft TV Platform Group at Microsoft Corp.  "By integrating National's technology with the Microsoft TV Platform, developers and service providers can count on a set-top box solution that is easy to build on and enables many different options to generate revenue. Consumers will benefit when cost-effective, innovative set-top boxes based on this platform hit the market and their access to new TV services really takes off."

BSQUARE (Nasdaq:BSQR) is a leading provider of software, tools and technologies for the development and deployment of intelligent computing devices such as set-top boxes, based on the Microsoft platforms. "We were looking for a silicon partner who could provide an integrated platform for our customers" said Paul Budak, business unit director of BSQUARE's the Set-top Box Group. "National has demonstrated that Geode offers an excellent hardware solution and stable environment for the development of next generation set-top boxes using MSTV. Our latest set-top Box SDK, announced today, will work in sync with the National Platform and MSTV to provide an integrated development environment for OEMs looking to deliver a set-top box to market quickly."

About the Geode SP1SC10 Platform
The Geode SP1SC10 demonstration and development platform includes a full set of multimedia functions and peripheral interfaces.  The system includes: National Semiconductor's SC1200 Geode processor, 10/100-Mb/s Ethernet controller, IEEE-1394 controller with two ports and AC97 Codec; Sigma Designs' EM8400 MPEG A/V decoder; Philips' SAA7114 video decoder; a SmartCard interface; V.90 modem; and two PCI expansion slots. The reference platform provides an ideal development environment for manufacturers seeking to design one or more advanced capabilities into a set-top box, including interactive TV broadcast services, Internet browsing and email, time-delay recording, multimedia gateway, video-on-demand, and streaming video. The platform supports Microsoft's MSTV, WinCE and BSQUARE's SDK for MSTV; Liberate's TV Navigator; WindRiver's VxWorks; and Linux operating systems.

About the Geode SC1200 Processor
The SC1200, announced in September, is a highly-integrated "system-on-a-chip" optimized for the digital set-top box market.  The single-chip solution enables a quick design cycle for manufacturers, overall lower system costs and the reduced possibility of component incompatibility. The Geode processor's x86 architecture is ideal for Internet access because most of the search engines, plug-ins and applets on the Internet are based on the same technology.

Manufactured on the company's advanced 0.18-micron process technology, the Geode SC1200 processor offers the industry's most highly integrated, cost effective x86 solution for next generation interactive set-top box designs. Its very low power characteristics make it an ideal choice for fanless set-top boxes, allowing equipment manufacturers to avoid noise and reliability concerns with consumer electronic product designs. The power dissipation of the chip is less than two watts under typical operating conditions.

National's Geode processor delivers the best solution for products in a variety of STB markets, including interactive digital STBs, NetTV and multimedia gateways.

The SC1200 is based around a Geode GX1 32-bit, x86-compatible processor module, and includes a TV processor with four 10-bit video DACs, CCIR656 video input port, IDE bus, three USB ports and a periphery of UARTs and general purpose I/Os. The SC1200 combines advanced CPU performance with MMX™ support, fully accelerated 2D graphics, a 64-bit synchronous DRAM (SDRAM) interface and an internal PCI bus controller.

Pricing and Availability
The SP1SC10 is priced at $2,000 and includes a sample platform and software. The Geode SC1200 processor is priced below $50 for quantities of 10,000 units.  Contact a National Semiconductor sales office for availability.

About National Semiconductor
National Semiconductor provides system-on-a-chip solutions for the information age. Combining real-world analog and state-of the-art digital technology, the company's chips lead many sectors of the personal computer, communications, and consumer markets.  With headquarters in Santa Clara, California, National reported sales of $2.1 billion for its last fiscal year and has about 10,500 employees worldwide. Additional company and product information is available on the World Wide Web at www.national.com. For more details on information appliances, see IA.NATIONAL.COM.

For more information about our partners, contact:

BSQUARE Corporation
Michelle Manson

Julio Garcia, Thorp Co.
Yvette Sterbenk, Thorp Co.

Microsoft TV
Chad Haase, Shandwick International