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  • Hitachi Semiconductor, SiRF Collaborate in GPS Sector
  • August 12, 1998 (SAN FRANCISCO) -- Hitachi Semiconductor (America) Inc. and SiRF Technology Inc., a leading developer of global positioning system (GPS) technology, established an alliance to apply GPS know-how to consumer platforms.
    Hitachi Semiconductor (America) is a subsidiary of Hitachi America Ltd. SiRF Technology is based in Santa Clara, Calif.

    Initially, the companies will cooperate in technical and marketing activities. Also, they will do joint reference-design work to make it easier for customers to utilize Hitachi Semiconductor's expertise in embedded microprocessors as well as SiRF's GPS architecture.

    SiRF will use Hitachi's SH RISC microprocessors for the SiRFstarI/LX architecture-based GPS module and GPS smart antenna reference designs.

    Already, some of Hitachi's development tools for the SH architecture have been integrated into SiRF's system developer kit.

    The Hitachi Semiconductor-SiRF Technology partnership has resulted in the world's smallest commercially available GPS module, which is made by U-Blox AG of Switzerland. Measuring just 30mm by 30mm by 6mm, the new module is slightly bigger than a coin. Because the module is so minute, it will be possible to make very small location-assist consumer devices.

    Also, Hitachi and SiRF are developing various reference platforms for applications such as car navigation and car information systems. Hitachi's technical support teams have been trained on SiRF's GPS know-how and product offerings.

    SiRF already collaborates with Intel Corp. That cooperation is based on the WinSiRF GPS architecture and it is meant to bring high-performance GPS services to the PC-based automobile computing platform.

    According to Hitachi Semiconductor, the SH1 processor provides top level price/performance for standalone GPS modules, while the SH3 and SH4 are popular processors for Windows CE and automobile device platforms. Because the SH family of microprocessors have upward software compatibility, SiRF's GPS chip set and software can be integrated into many new consumer platforms.

    SiRF's SiRFstarI/LX product line, a chip set and software package introduced in October 1997, provides location awareness to consumer applications requiring high performance but low power, a small footprint and low cost, according to the company. "SiRF's objective has always been to help drive GPS-based location into four mainstream consumer platforms: the personal computer, wireless handsets, automobile and consumer electronics," said Kanwar Chadha, SiRF's founder and vice president of marketing.

    Two major makers of cellular phones, Nokia of Finland and Ericsson of Sweden, have selected SiRF's GPS technology for their wireless consumer platforms.

    "SiRF's pairing with the leaders in their respective markets -- Hitachi in consumer electronics microprocessors, Nokia and Ericsson in wireless communications, and Intel in PCs -- illustrates the broad range of location-aware consumer applications to come," said Xavier Pucel, an analyst at Dataquest.

    (Neil Davis, Asia BizTech Correspondent)

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    Updated: Tue Aug 11 18:08:33 1998 PDT