SANTA CLARA, Calif. ( ChipWire) -- iCompression Inc. plans to begin sampling its new single-chip MPEG-2 audio/video codec this month. Designated iTVC15, the chip is designed for non-PC personal video recording systems. The iTVC15 integrates MPEG-2 encoding and decoding functions for both audio and video, as well as MPEG transport and an on-screen display controller.
The chip achieves "the industry's highest level of integration" among personal video recorder ICs now available on the market, said Stephen Solari, vice president of marketing for iCompression.
Compared to competitors' MPEG-2 video encoding solutions that rely on external components to handle audio encoding and audio/video multiplexing, all the functions necessary for personal digital video recorders are self-contained in the single-chip iTVC15, said Paul Farrelle, vice president of software engineering. Graphics capabilities integrated in iTVC15 also let consumer system OEMs support user interfaces and electronic program guides.
"The name of the game today is how fast we can get our customers to build successful products," said Solari. With the iTVC15 single-chip architecture, system OEMs need to worry less about coordinating extra components supplied by different vendors when they build their personal video recorder system.
The higher integration also translates into a lower system cost, iCompression said. A typical personal video recorder like those designed by Tivo or Replay uses five different components, such as an MPEG-2 video encoder, an MPEG-2 audio encoder, a multiplexing chip, an MPEG-2 audio/video decoder and an on-screen display controller, to realize encode/decode functions.
Further, each function block often requires its own memory subsystem. With iVAC15, "you only need two memory subsystems," Farrelle said. The new chip requires 8 megabytes of SDRAM for audio/video encoding, and another 8 Mbytes of SDRAM for audio/video decoder and graphics.
The chip, manufactured at Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. using a 0.25-micron process, is priced at $29 each in 10,000-piece quantities. Full production is slated for July.
Earlier this month, iCompression launched the industry's first MPEG-2 encoder USB reference design kit. The reference design, ready for production, integrates iVAC12, a USB interface, and Philips Semiconductors' SAA7114 video decoder.