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Matrox to Discontinue Frame Grabber Line

Photonics Spectra
Dec 1999
Gaynell Terrell

Philips Semiconductors, which announced plans this year to phase out a key component used by a number of major frame grabber manufacturers, has been only partly successful in assuring its customers that it will make replacement parts available to avoid consumer problems.

Matrox Imaging of Dorval, Quebec, Canada, said it is dependent on Philips' SAA7196 video decoder chip as a sole source device and thus will discontinue its Meteor family line of frame grabbers.

Philips Semiconductors issued a notice to discontinue for the video decoder chip with a purchase deadline of March 31, 2000. But marketing communications representative Paul Morrison said the company has a replacement part available for the chip, as well as for a bus master chip used by Matrox in a chip set.

Cliff Wilson, vice president of engineering for frame grabber maker Data Translation Inc. of Marlborough, Mass., said his company has known for about a year that the decoder was to be discontinued and took steps to ensure that it received adequate supplies for future board assembly.

"Even after a manufacturer says they are not going to be making [a certain part] anymore, you move into a sort of gray market" for discontinued parts, said Philip Colet, director of sales and marketing for manufacturer Coreco Inc. of St. Laurent, Quebec.

Coreco also said that its frame grabber product lines will not be affected by Philips' action.

Matrox Imaging announced in September that it will not accept orders for frame grabbers Meteor; Meteor/PPB; Meteor/RGB; Meteor/RGB/YC; Meteor/PPB/RGB; and Meteor/PPB/RGB/YC after year-end, although it will accept repair orders through the life of the products.

Kelly Davis, a media relations specialist, said Matrox sells a few thousand Meteor boards per month. The company is hoping to persuade its customers to buy its newer software-compatible product, the Meteor-II. Released two years ago, the Meteor-II line uses a Samsung video decoder.

Matrox Product Line Manager Pierantonio Boriero said that the company had intended to phase out the Meteor line over several years but that Philips' parts upgrade accelerated those plans.

Meteor customers should inform Matrox of their usage forecast so that the company can make a lifetime buy of replacement parts, according to Boriero.

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