Claiming a world first, NEC has developed a chip for use in future high-speed home multimedia networks.
The prototype switching chip is designed for use on networks based on the IEEE 1394 specification, which is fast becoming the standard for home networking of consumer electronics equipment.
The large-scale integrated circuit chip can support hardware routing between two different IEEE 1394 networks, allowing networks to be interconnected.
The two-port chip also sports features that provide automatic network configuration, allowing it to work across multiple networks.
It could also support wireless networking systems that will allow the network to extend beyond one room and fibre-optic transmission systems that can extend the network's range to a distance as great as one kilometre.
The IEEE 1394 standard, which is closely based on Apple Computer's FireWire standard, enables high-speed data transfer at up to 400 megabits per second and plug-and-play functionality.
IEEE 1394 ports already are being installed in some devices, especially camcorders and videocassette recorders.