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MMS UNVEILS NEW TECHNOLOGY ROADMAP FOR NOTEBOOK PCs

DEMO 96, PALM SPRINGS, Calif., Jan. 29 /PRNewswire/ -- MicroModule Systems (MMS) and several strategic partners today unveiled working prototypes of the Personal computer industry's first Pentium(R) processor-based multichip module designed for notebook and embedded computers at Infoworld's Demo 96 Conference. MMS, a leading CPU subsystem manufacturer, designed the new Spectrum family of notebook CPU modules to increase performance while reducing the size, weight, and cost of notebook computers. Companies providing initial support and endorsement for the new technology include Intel Corporation, Cirrus Logic, Samsung, National Semiconductor, Micron Semiconductor, Hitachi, AMP, Cinch, JAE, Dell Computer and Zykronix.

All Spectrum family members will contain an Intel Pentium processor, core logic chipsets from either Cirrus Logic or Intel, 256 Kbytes or more of fast second-level cache, and a National Semiconductor temperature sensor. All seven chips are integrated into a module which is less than 2 inches by 2 inches -- smaller than the space traditionally required by the Pentium CPU alone.

"MMS is pleased to announce both a new product family and the formation of a new industry infrastructure, architected to drive desktop performance into notebook PCs," said Michael I. Grove, Chairman and CEO of MicroModule Systems. "Our unique design provides a solution for many of the industry's greatest design challenges. With Spectrum CPU modules, notebooks can be built with higher performance, better thermal characteristics, a smaller form factor, and for the first time notebooks can offer investment protection through CPU upgradeability. These modules greatly simplify the manufacturing of notebooks as various performance CPUs can be designed into the same board-level footprint, thereby reducing engineering cycles and simplifying inventory management."

Ganesh Moorthy, general manager of Intel's Special Markets Division, said, "Intel is supplying SmartDie(TM) product versions of the Pentium(R) processors and supporting chip-sets for the MMS Spectrum modules. We are happy to support all customers who are expanding the market for Pentium processors."

David Lunsford, director of advanced technology at Dell Computer, said, "Dell is always interested in technologies which can bring more value to end-users. The Spectrum MCMs have the potential to help us deliver extremely high performance in a very small area. We look forward to MMS delivering this high-potential technology in commercially viable modules."

AMP Incorporated, a world leader in interconnection devices, provides support for the new MMS offering with its AMPliflex(R) LGA socket, utilizing compressive technology. "We're pleased to be partnering with MMS to provide next generation packaging solutions for the notebook industry," said David Carr Johnson, AMP's product management director for AMPliflex.

Notebook manufacturers currently face a large number of technical challenges for each new generation of microprocessor. The chassis of a notebook takes the longest to design of any component, since it must solve difficult thermal and electromagnetic interference problems while supporting additional functions, larger batteries, and while keeping the system weight at or below about 6 pounds. Since each chassis design takes anywhere from nine months to a year, and microprocessors typically increase their clock rate about once every three months, today's desktop CPU is typically two generations ahead of the fastest available notebook CPU. Historically, since leading desktop systems are typically equipped with L2 caches, (most notebooks are not), and the fastest desktop CPUs have a 25 percent higher frequency than the fastest clock rate used in notebooks, a desktop system usually delivers at least 30 percent more performance than the fastest notebooks.

The challenges of notebook design are compounded by industry trends that show notebook demand growing faster than desktop shipments. This is due to end-users preferring to own one system, and are moving toward notebooks for their desktop environment -- but they are unwilling to accept a long-term proposition that their notebook will be slower, have fewer features, and not offer any investment protection in the form of an upgradeable CPU subsystem.

Spectrum CPU modules am designed using a standard footprint that is roughly 2 inches by 2 inches (or 25 square centimeters). Within this form factor MicroModule Systems can integrate a CPU/Chipset/L2 Cache subsystem that replaces over 18 square inches of board space in one of today's notebook PCs. By taking advantage of multichip module technology, which uses unpackaged semiconductor die, it is easy to reduce the board space required to implement additional functionality like CDROM drives, extra batteries full motion video, or large L2 caches.

Now, notebooks that incorporate Spectrum CPU modules can have a chassis design that spans multiple CPU generations, and can incorporate new features simultaneously with their desktop brethren. Several leading semiconductor manufacturers have shown strong interest in providing die products for the Spectrum family -- helping the formation of a new notebook infrastructure that includes IC suppliers, PC and system OEMs, and connector suppliers.

"As a leader in core logic chipsets for notebook PCs, Cirrus Logic encourages and supports leading edge technologies to ensure our customers' success," said Michael Maia, VP of Marketing for Cirrus Logic's System Technology Products. "The MMS Spectrum modules using Cirrus Logic's core logic chipsets provide the flexibility, upgradeability, form factor and time-to-market advantages required to compete in the high-performance, highly-featured notebook market."

The cost advantages of a commercial infrastructure able to support millions of CPU modules per year are very attractive to embedded systems manufacturers like Colorado-based Zykronix. According to David Ghaemi, Zykronix president and CEO, "Small form factor, embedded control systems have typically required special engineering, causing higher prices than an off-the-shelf PC. The MMS Spectrum module approach allows Zykronix to deliver very small, very powerful computers, at a much lower price, by taking advantage of the high volume inherent in notebook PCs. Plus, the new module technology gives our end-users a simple upgrade path."

MicroModule Systems, Inc. it the world's largest fully merchant manufacturer of multichip subsystems and interconnect solutions. The ISO 9001-certified company has successfully completed over 160 unique MCM designs for customers in the computer systems, semiconductor, communications, defense and aerospace industries. Located in Cupertino, California, MicroModule Systems provides standard, custom, and enabling technology products for its customers.
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/NOTE TO EDITORS: Color photographs of a Spectrum CPU module are available. Contact Howard Green at the number below for details./

/CONTACT: Howard Green of MicroModule Systems, Inc., 408-864-5986, or green@mms.com; or Richard Burger of Miller Communications, 415-962-9550, or rburger@millerwest.com, for MicroModule Systems/

CO: MicroModule Systems Inc. ST: California IN: CPR SU: PDT

DS-SM -- SJM005 -- 1940 01/29/96 07:58 EST
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