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Cyrix Unveils Groundbreaking WebPAD™ Conceptual Design

Demonstrates proof-of-concept for low-cost, portable web browsing device that could enable mass adoption of Internet access

Nov 13, 1998

Richardson, TX -- November 13, 1998 -- Cyrix® Corporation, a subsidiary of National Semiconductor Corporation® (NYSE: NSM), today announced a groundbreaking reference design for a hand-held wireless Internet Access device, dubbed WebPAD™, based on a new version of the integrated MediaGX™ processor. Prototypes demonstrating this proof-of-concept will be shown publicly for the first time at Fall COMDEX (Cyrix booth #L6616 in the north hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center). 

The WebPAD is the industry's first conceptual design for a low-cost, portable, wireless consumer device for Internet Access. It allows users to effortlessly surf the Web or read and send email from anywhere around the home or office. 

"Cyrix's unique x86-compatible integration technology and system expertise has enabled the demonstration of a groundbreaking Internet access device, said Tim Bajarin, president, Creative Strategies. "This could be the spark the industry has needed to dramatically increase information appliance penetration into the consumer marketplace." 

Developed by Cyrix's Conceptual Products Group, the WebPAD prototype demonstrated at COMDEX is based on existing MediaGX processor technology. Cyrix expects to have an optimized reference design available for OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers) in Q199, based on a new low-voltage version of the MediaGX™ platform. The reference design is intended to give OEMs a solution they can use to manufacture a WebPAD-like device using Cyrix and National technology. The reference design takes advantage of Cyrix's highly integrated processor platform, which provides the processing capabilities and x86 compatibility users need for Internet access. 

"The WebPAD is another demonstration of Cyrix's advanced thinking on the future uses of integrated processor technology," said Forrest Norrod, senior director of Cyrix's Systems and Software Development in Longmont, Colorado. "It's a proof-of-concept demonstrated in hardware and software. OEMs will be able to use the reference design to deliver an exciting product that, because it's based on the MediaGX processor, doesn't sacrifice the look and feel of Internet access on a conventional PC." 

WebPAD prototypes are the first in a series of WebPAD reference designs for low-cost Internet Access devices using National's highly integrated platform solutions. The prototype is a hand-held, battery-powered, 8-inch by 11-inch tablet with an interactive 10-inch LCD touchscreen supporting 18-bit color and high-resolution graphics. 

WebPAD Reference Design Features
The reference design includes specifications for the MediaGX™ processor-powered WebPAD, a charging cradle, and a base station transceiver. The base station transceiver connects to the telephone or network system and communicates by radio frequency with the mobile WebPAD. The base station can be conveniently located near telephone and network connections, allowing users to carry the WebPAD anywhere in and around the home or office and surf the Internet, read and send e-mail, or chat online, free from the constraints of power cords and telephone wires. 

The WebPAD works much like a cordless home telephone, with a range of up to 500 feet from the base station transceiver. The prototype WebPAD uses 2.4 GHz wireless communications technology developed by Harris Semiconductor. Future designs will offer wireless options supplied by National Semiconductor. 

The reference design will be available in Q199 to original equipment manufacturers under a no-fee license program. Pricing will be determined by OEMs. 

OEMs can customize their WebPAD-based products to optimize them for specific markets and price points. For example, modem functions housed in the base station could be tailored for specific bandwidth requirements. Or a PC platform could be used as the base station with the WebPAD providing untethered Internet access. The design will support several diskless operating systems, such as QNX,® Windows® CE and embedded Windows® NT. 

The prototype WebPAD uses an MMX-enhanced MediaGX processor. The reference design available to OEMs in Q199 will be based on a new low-voltage version of the MediaGX processor. The prototype has 16MB RAM, 8MB ROM, built-in speakers and microphone, and dual USB ports for connecting an optional keyboard or mouse. The prototype does not include a hard drive or PCMCIA slot, but the design could support such additions if an OEM chooses. 

Cyrix and the Conceptual Products Group
Cyrix's Conceptual Products Group focuses on advancing the state of integrated processor technology by developing innovative reference designs that enable OEMs to take advantage of National Semiconductor's extensive portfolio of analog and digital technology. The CPG leveraged the MediaGX™ processor to pioneer the sub-$1,000 market with Compaq's Presario 2100 desktop PC in 1997. At Comdex 1997, the CPG unveiled an award-winning reference design for the Media Center, an all-in-one home infotainment and computing center, demonstrating the flexibility of the integrated processor platform. 

Cyrix, a wholly owned subsidiary of National Semiconductor, is a leading supplier of innovative microprocessor-based solutions that set new standards for the personal computer market. Cyrix delivers compelling value and quality to its customers, the manufacturers of personal computer products, by combining industry-leading design with world-class manufacturing. 

National Semiconductor Corporation
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.