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Press Release
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                                     Chris Shimizu
                                     NEC Corporation
                                     TEL     : 81-3-3798-6511
                                     FAX     : 81-3-3457-7249
                                     E-mail  : shimizu@p10-22150.star.nec.co.jp

*****For Immediate Use September 12, 1996

NEC Develops Multimedia Information Socket Using Plastic Optical Fiber for the Future Multimedia Home Network

NEC announced today that it has successfully developed a multimedia information socket employing a plastic optical fiber (POF) data link, the first of its kind in the world. This success could lead the way to the realization of the future multimedia home network.

The newly developed multimedia information socket is capable of converting digital data signal, sent using the transmission protocol IEEE 1394 standard (Note 1), a high speed serial bus that can send integrated image data and computer data, as an optical data signal over POF links. This was made possible by incorporating IEEE 1394 network compatible circuits, a control signal conversion circuit and a metal cable terminal circuit, with the High Speed Plastic Optical Fiber Transceiver (HiSPOT), a transceiver module providing high speed transmission using POF.

POF links, while maintaining an economic performance equivalent to that of metal cables, offers low magnetic noise characteristics that are important in network systems in the home environment and can extend the transmission distance up to a maximum of 70 meters. By using improved characteristics of the POF link, the IEEE 1394 network, that has been long regarded as a potential transmission method, despite its limited area of application due to its short transmission distance of 4.5 meters (only enough to cover one room), has become an economical network system which can cover a whole house.

Recent improvements in digital technology in audio visual electrical appliances that has been taking place hand-in-hand with the increase of CPU speed in personal computers has brought closer the era where high speed multimedia information, images, sound, and digital data, can be handled in an ordinary home environment. Industrial environment regarding the multimedia home network is rapidly evolving towards the direction of global standardization and practical applications, which has created an urgent need for a high speed interface that allows flexible connectivity between audio visual appliances and personal computer peripherals. One of the standards that meets this need is the IEEE 1394 high speed serial bus. This high speed serial bus is equipped with a bandwidth assurance function that is one of indispensable functions for the transmission of multimedia signals and offers a broad characteristic covering 100 - 400 Mbps. The Digital Audio Visual Council (DAVIC), a standardization body in audio visual equipment industry (Note 2), and the Video Equipment Standard Association (VESA) (Note 3), have already adopted it as a part of their home-network interface standard. The announcement by Microsoft Corporation that they have decided to designated the IEEE 1394 as the standard interface for their next generation PC 97 standard (Note 4) clearly illustrates that corporate activity setting the direction of the home network is taking place.

Being based on conventional metal cable, the scope of application of the IEEE 1394 link, however, is limited to personal computer peripheral connections due to its short maximum transmission capability of 4.5 meters caused by magnetic radiation and signal losses. Under this situation, developing a new technology to extend the transmission distance of IEEE 1394 has been a hot issue in making the multimedia home network system into a reality.

NEC has long been engaged in a research aimed at realizing the multimedia home network and has succeeded in developing an information socket, essential for the creation of multimedia home network, by incorporating the POF link's favorable characteristics, low cost and long distance transmission capability, and the IEEE 1394 's high speed transmission capability.

The most suitable application for this information socket is in a network within a room. The network would be created with conventional metal cable and connection between rooms would be via information socket placed on the wall. Current home devices can be operated via conventional metal cable interfaces, eliminating unnecessary reconstruction and enabling the easy creation of home network.

NEC is committed to further developing IEEE 1394 multimedia home network technology based on this information socket technology.


1. High Speed Serial Bus IEEE 1394

A serial bus that supports a high speed data transfer and a real time transfer to serve as an interface for multimedia data transfer. It offers transfer speeds of 100M/200M/400M bps. Setting of IDs and terminators for equipment is not necessary. Up to 64 machines can be connected, which help to reduce costs. This serial bus was officially standardized in December, 1995.

2. DAVIC (Digital Audio Visual Council)

A standardization organization that works on interface and communication protocols designed for interactive media, or video on demand (VOD) services including digital, audio, and visual data.

3. VESA (Video Equipment Standard Association)

A standardization organization concerned with personal computers and their peripherals in general. From 1995 on, it has been engaged in promotion of standardization of information transfers between set-top-boxes and home appliances.

4. Next Generation PC 97 Standard

A hardware specifications for the next version of Windows95(R) and WindowsNT(R). It is broken down to four categories with individual specifications: Basic, Entertainment, Workstation, and Server. Other main features are, in addition to IEEE 1394, new power management specifications and Win32 compatible device drivers.

[Copyright(C) NEC Corporation 1996. NEC and C&C are trademarks of NEC Corporation.]