Comdex: Diamond to rule home networking?

Diamond Multimedia is planning a Pan-European launch of its home networking products during the early part of next year according to officials at Comdex today.

The company, which recently won the right to ship its controversial RIO MP3 walkman device, already has a wireless home networking product in the US, HomeFree, and is in the final stages of development with its HomePNA (Phoneline Network Architecture - not to be confused with the Home Phoneline Networking Alliance) which it has developed in conjunction with AMD and others. The product, HomeFree Phoneline Network, allows users to setup a home network using existing telephone points.

To setup a network, users plug in a peripheral card (details remain under a non-disclosure agreement) which connects to an ordinary telephone socket. The second PC picks up the connection via another socket creating a network capable of 1MB/sec. 10 MB/sec is predicted by mid-99. ZDNet UK News was given a demonstration of the system running a Quake clone with two players. It was very smooth but with two players, it should be. "Main applications for this network technology" says Andy Brannan, Diamond's sales and marketing director for Northern Europe, "include, multiplayer gaming, sharing internet access, printers and files."

Diamond doesn't want its customers struggling with the setup, so it has designed the system to ask just one question. ‘What are the names of the computers you are connecting?' "We really don't want people to get into TCP/IP, IPX or any of that stuff" says Brannan, "so they just plug in the computers to the telephone sockets, name the computers using a Wizard and go."

Asked if Diamond expects any problems with the UK launch of the Phoneline Network, Brannan says he hopes BT won't object to users plugging their machines into telephone sockets. "So far we haven't encountered any problems in the US and we're not expecting any problems in the UK when we launch."

BT was unable to respond.

HomeFree Phoneline Network will be marketed by Diamond with silicon provided by AMD. Details of Diamond's Wireless networking technology are available at http://www.diamondmm.com/homefree/.

The European launch date and pricing for both networking products are protected by a non-disclosure agreement.

For more details on HomePNA, go to http://www.homepna.org/news/pressr1.htm

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