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Nov 30, 1998

November 30, 1998 - National Semiconductor Corporation? today introduced the first integrated circuit that squeezes all of the electronics for a complete color image scanner onto a single silicon chip smaller than a thumbnail. Scanners convert drawings, photos and documents into electronic files that can be stored and transmitted over local computer networks or the Internet, or that can be reproduced by color or black and white printers.

"Our corporate mantra is to focus on system-on-a-chip solutions like this single-chip scanner," said Brian Halla, National Semiconductor's CEO. "National is one of the few companies that has all of the analog and digital technology pieces in place to create complex systems on one or two chips. For consumers, this translates into smaller and less expensive but more powerful electronics."

When National introduced its first scanner products about two years ago it cut the number of chips needed from between 20 and 40 to between 6 and 10, depending on the number of features designed into the end system. Now the company has integrated all of these functions into a single chip that offers superior image quality and significantly higher speed operation than the current generation of scanners that still use multiple chips. The new scanner-on-a-chip breakthrough is allowing manufacturers to introduce high performance flatbed scanners to the retail market at all-time low prices.

"National's design sets a new standard in price and performance for image scanners," said Bill Stacy, vice president of the company's System Products Group. "This new chip, called the LM9830, or Merlin, demonstrates our system-on-a-chip capability, using our analog technology expertise to achieve highly integrated systems on a single piece of silicon. In addition to performance and cost benefits, this advanced level of integration also shortens the time it takes our customers to get their new products to market by minimizing their electronics and software design requirements.

The new chip scans images at a rate of 6 million picture elements (dot-sized units called pixels) per second in 36-bit color format, which is the current standard for high accuracy color reproduction. It can also provide a range of resolutions from 50 to 600 dots per inch. The number of dots per inch determines the clarity of detail in the final image, with more dots per inch representing sharper detail. The chip also offers scanner manufacturers a choice of controls over scanning rates which can increase actual scanning speeds as much as four times faster than today's competing scanners.

National is creating single-chip solutions for other popular electronic devices that will improve performance, enhance reliability, and reduce costs. Recently, the company announced that it would build a PC on a chip by mid 1999, replacing the dozen or more chips used in today's computers.

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 has annual sales of approximately $2.5 billion and 12,000 employees worldwide. Additional company and product information is available on the World Wide Web at www.national.com.