Graphics chipmaker Tseng Laboratories Inc is losing its shine with Wall Street. Despite an average 72% annual growth rate in earnings over the past five years; and the reputation of founder and chief executive Jack Tseng as the best graphics producer in the market, shares in the Newton, Pennsylvania company have been trading at less […]
Graphics chipmaker Tseng Laboratories Inc is losing its shine with Wall Street. Despite an average 72% annual growth rate in earnings over the past five years; and the reputation of founder and chief executive Jack Tseng as the best graphics producer in the market, shares in the Newton, Pennsylvania company have been trading at less than 13 times estimated 1993 earnings of 95 cents per share. IBM Corp’s recent announcement that it would be using Tseng’s popular ET4000/AX VGA graphics controller in its new 80486SX model 2133 and 2155 PS/1 personal computers provided only a temporary respite, briefly boosting share prices 11% to $12.125 from $1.25. Since its introduction in 1989, 6m ET4000 chips have been sold, contributing 87% of the company’s 59% revenue growth last year. The niggling doubt is that the late arrival of the ET4000/W32 graphics chip last month – three months overdue – will not compensate for the inroads that Tseng Killers such as Cirrus Logic are making in the ET/4000 market Tseng’s mainstay product.
The mood at Tseng remains bullish nonetheless. It is looking to move into the market for graphics controller products for flat panel displays and extended architectures and is optimistic about the prospects for the new ET4000/W32. The chip offers a bandwidth of over 91M-bytes per second and full 32-bit data path. It has a high throughput graphics engine for faster Bit Block Transfer, line drawing and other graphics operations, with all 256 Windows 3.1 raster operations included in the hardware, freeing the main processor from data manipulation. Its 64 by 64 by 2 hardware sprite reduces graphics system overhead and extends performance, and its pixel amplification speeds up text printing, colour expansion and area fill operations by up to 10 times. The W32’s internal management unit provides the CPU with three independent read-write opportunities into any display memory location, without Super VGA memory segment boundaries, and its internal multiport cache enables it to serve multiple environments; it is optimised for Windows NT too. The chip supports a secondary hardware window, with resolution and colour depth independent of the primary VGA display. It can display up to 60 frames per second in High Colour through its 8-bit asynchronous Image Memory Access port. Input data can be interlaced or non-interlaced, enabling the display and manipulation of full motion NTSC or PAL television video. The W32 supports AT, EISA and Micro Channel buses and has ET4000/AX local bus technology extended into the graphics accelerator to provide a direct connect into 80386 and 80486 SX and DX systems. It is fully VL-Bus-compliant and is expected to be used in proprietary systems as well. It supports 512Kb, 1Mb, 2Mb and 4Mb of video memory.
By Lynn Stratton
Resolutions up to 1,280 by 1,024 with 16,000 colours will be supported with 1,024 by 768 with 64,000 colours and True Colour at 640 by 480; 16-bit Digital-to-Analogue Converters are also supported. The response has been favourable among OEM customers that have received samples, to whom it will be generally available by early 1993. Fremont, California-based Cirrus Logic Inc, which is challenging Tseng with the family of TrueColor VGA controllers it released earlier this year (CI No 1,944), remains in confident mood however, having received two signficant orders recently and launched three new products. First, it has just won a contract to supply LCD VGA graphics controller chips for Matsushita Electric Industrial Co’s new Panasonic personal computers. Panasonic’s CF-1000 will use Cirrus’ mixed voltage CL-GD6412 device, which can operate at 3.3V or 5V levels; the Panasonic CF-480 model uses the CL-GD6410, said to be the most popular LCD VGA controller for notebooks; and the CF-480C machine has the CL-GD6410 and the CL-GD6430 for colour enhancement. Second, AST Research Inc will use the CL-GD5422 True Colour VGA graphics controller chip in its Bravo personal computer. The CL-GD5422 is an entry-level product combining analogue frequency synthesiser and RAMDAC elemen
ts. It provides resolution up to 1,024 by 768 pixels and 256 colours, and support for 16- and 24-bit true colour graphics, yielding up to 16.8m colours. A number of Windows assist functions enhance performance. It costs $21.50 in 1,000-up quantities. The company’s new chips are the CL-PD6710 and CL-PD6720 host adaptors and CL-SH380 disk drive controller. All comply with the Personal Computer Memory Card International Association Release 2.0 specifications.
The host adaptors control the interconnection from the CPU and memory card in notebook computers; the CL-PD6710 supports single-slot, and the CL-PD6720 supports dual-slot configurations. The adaptors support any PCMCIA memory or input-output card and enable users to plug in or remove cards when the power is on. They also automatically apply power when cards are inserted into slots and switch it off when cards are extracted. The interface disk controller enables manufacturers to build a Winchester disk drive that plugs directly into the PCMCIA memory slot. It supports the AT Attachment interface standard enabling the interchange of disk drives among different computers. The single-slot adaptor costs $21 in quantities of 1,000; the dual-slot adaptor is $29. Sampling begins this quarter, with volume production planned for early 1993. The controller costs $25 per unit in quantities of 1,000-up. Cirrus’s success – and that of Tseng – will depend on pricing. No one doubts Tseng’s reputation for quality but balancing this with competitive pricing will be crucial to the ET4000/W32’s success. Industry commentators have suggested that within a year it could cost around the same as the old ET/4000. This is bad news for those competitors pursuing a share in that market and may put the shine back on its shares.