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SCENIX DEBUTS TCP/IP EMBEDDED CHIP FOR INTERNET CONNECTIVITY.

Scenix Semiconductor, Inc., Santa Clara, Calif., has introduced a complete industry-standard network connectivity protocol stack that is designed to provide direct Internet access for cost-and size-constrained embedded applications, such as remote access and monitoring devices, industrial control systems and Web-enabled appliances.

The "SX-Stack" can communicate with any Web browser on the Internet, and can also receive and transmit e-mail. Unlike other implementations, the SX-Stack includes the physical interface layer with the TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol) network connectivity protocols, enabling system designers to produce embedded Internet devices without external physical access chips or a gateway PC.

The hardware platform for the SX-Stack is the high-performance Scenix SX Series microcontroller (MCU), which can provide up to 100 MIPS (million instructions per second) performance and is priced in the $5.00 range. This offers an extremely cost-effective alternative to other solutions, including the 32-bit processors and ASICs (application-specific integrated circuits) that are generally required for single-chip protocol stack implementation.

"I'm intrigued by this solution, and think Scenix should do well with this new offering," said Will Strauss, president of industry analyst firm Forward Concepts. "With up to 100 MIPS available, the SX MCU should have the horsepower to do all the protocol functions and still run the application code. And the fact that everything from physical to application layer is included in one stack makes for a very quick and easy design cycle, and can result in real single-chip embedded Internet solutions."

"As the Internet becomes a truly ubiquitous communications and interconnectivity medium, we are seeing great demand for embedding Net access capabilities into virtually everything people use, from security systems and vending machines to card readers and home appliances," said Bulent Celebi, president and CEO of Scenix. "Scenix is now embarking on a 'communications initiative' that will focus on driving this trend by using the unequalled performance of the SX Series MCU family to create incredibly cost-effective connectivity solutions.

"This represents a major milestone in the growth of the company, and we're very excited about the opportunities and challenges presented by our entry into the networking market."

The SX-Stack

The SX-Stack contains all of the standard Internet protocol layers:

-- The network access layer, served by the PPP (Point-to-Point Protocol)

-- The Internet layer, served by the IP (Internet Protocol) and ICMP (Internet Control Message Protocol)

-- The host-to-host transport layer, served by the UDP (User Datagram Protocol) and TCP (Transmission Control Protocol)

-- The application layer, served by the SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol), HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) and POP3 (Post Office Protocol)

The PPP is the network access layer protocol most commonly used by ISPs (Internet Service Providers), and makes it possible for the network stack to connect to any other machine running PPP.

The SX-Stack protocols are implemented as Virtual Peripheral(tm) software modules that are stored in on-chip flash/EEPROM program memory on the SX Series MCU. The modules are intended to be configured in two ways, as a Web server (the iSX Server) and as an e-mail client (the eSX E-Mail Appliance).

The configurations can be implemented individually or together in a single SX Series MCU. Because it is in software form, the Scenix protocol stack can be easily modified or upgraded in the field to meet changing requirements and new standards.

The key difference between the SX-Stack and other network stacks is that the high performance and deterministic architecture of the SX Series MCU platform allow physical layer interfaces to be included in the software. Scenix currently offers a Bell 103-compatible and a V.23-compatible software modem.

The physical layer can also be any of the other interface modules from the Scenix Virtual Peripheral library, e.g., a UART, I2C or IrDA interface. Scenix is the only network stack supplier to make the physical layer available without external chips or a gateway PC.

The iSX Server

The iSX Server configuration of the Scenix SX-Stack is specifically intended for Web serving applications. It combines the physical layer with the PPP, TCP/IP, ICMP and HTTP layers. The HTTP layer makes it possible for the iSX to communicate with any Web browser, providing for a rich user interface that allows a large amount of information to be presented clearly and graphically.

For example, in a utility metering application, the modem of an SX solution installed in a meter could dial a local ISP number, transmit customer data over the Internet to the utility company's billing center and, if desired, display the information on a screen in a Web page format.

The iSX uses an external EEPROM to hold the Web resources, which can be of any type, including HTML, GIF, JPEG, Java(tm) applets, Java script, PDF or executable files. The only limit on the size of the resources that can be served is the size of the EEPROM.

The eSX E-Mail Appliance

The eSX E-Mail Appliance configuration combines a UART physical layer and the PPP, TCP/IP and ICMP network protocols with the SMTP (transmit) and POP3 (receive) application-layer e-mail protocols. This configuration can both send and receive e-mail messages, exchanging them with any e-mail address.

Being able to send e-mail messages from an embedded device enables a paging-type service in, for example, remote monitoring applications. When a special or abnormal condition is identified, an e-mail warning of the condition can be sent to a designated address.

Another application that exploits the ability to send and receive is in a dedicated consumer e-mail device that, with a small screen and keyboard, allows users to write and send e-mail messages and to receive messages without a PC.

Price and Availability

The SX-Stack is now available for licensing from Scenix, with pricing for the high-value intellectual property modules dependent upon specific agreements. Modem and UART Virtual Peripheral modules can be downloaded for free directly from the Scenix Web site (www.scenix.com).

Scenix Semiconductor

Scenix Semiconductor, Inc. is headquartered in Santa Clara, Calif. Founded in 1996, the company has been shipping the 50 MIPS SX Series family of microcontrollers (MCUs) since December 1997. In October 1998, the company announced the 100 MIPS SX Series MCUs, followed in February 1999 by MCUs with expanded memory and I/O capabilities. In December 1998, Cahners Publishing placed the SX Series on its "10 Top Processor List of 1998."

Scenix is the industry leader in using Virtual Peripheral(tm) software modules, which reduce system costs and increase flexibility by eliminating the need to "hardwire" functions into chips or to use external components. The combination of Virtual Peripheral software functions with the industry's highest performance MCUs is an ideal solution for a wide range of embedded applications.

It has resulted in a breakthrough method of embedding the Internet in such applications as home appliances, security systems, and remote telemetry. Additional information on Scenix and the SX Series products can be found on the Web, at www.scenix.com.

For more information, call 408/327-8888.
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Comment:SCENIX DEBUTS TCP/IP EMBEDDED CHIP FOR INTERNET CONNECTIVITY.
Publication:Computer Protocols
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Nov 1, 1999
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