SUNNYVALE, Calif. ( ChipWire) - Oak Technology, a semiconductor house whose products once ranged widely from consumer applications like digital TV set-tops, CD-ROM/CD-R, DVD and PC audio to 3-D graphics, has gone on a crash product-line diet, shedding many of its non-strategic businesses to focus on two strengths: optical storage systems and imaging products.
With a new management group in place, the company's new mandate is to become a leader in the optical storage market. Oak is rolling out a highly integrated two-chip DVD player solution that incorporates a frontend chip for the DVD drive and a backend chip for the DVD decoder.
Designated as OTI-9820/OTI-2650, the new chip set is more highly integrated and built with a smarter architecture than its competitors' solutions, said Alain Bismuth, vice president of DVDproducts at Oak Technology, based here. The two-piece chip set is designed so that consumer system OEMs can use the same DVD silicon platform across their entire product range, from low-end
to high-end players, Bismuth said. The chip set comes with enough processing power and software modules to let OEMs quickly respond to such new DVD features as progressive-scan display or
various audio standards, including digital theater systems (DTS), high-definition compatible digital (HDCD) and MP3, without totally redesigning the chip.
The combined front-end and back-end chip set solution provides Oak and its system OEMs with advantages in two areas: cost-effectiveness and better playability of DVD signals, the company said. Such advantages are enabled by seamlessly integrating the software and hardware of a OTI2650 single-chip DVD back-end solution and OTI9820 single-chip servo and DVD/CD DSP (front end),
according to Oak.
More specifically, the OTI-9820/OTI-2650 chip set comes with a unified host processor architecture. A 32-bit microSparc RISC core -- integrated into the OTI-2650 DVD decoder IC -- functions as both an internal CPU for the decoder IC and as a system host processor for the DVD player. The RISC core does internal traffic routing, decoding of subpicture and video headers, and A/V synchronization for the back-end decoder IC. It also drives the DVD-ROM drive and the overall DVD player, by offering servo control, user interface, peripheral control and DVD navigation.
The unified host processor architecture eliminates the need for an external microcontroller, separate memory for the microcontroller and ROM for the DVD-ROM drive, thus reducing the overall DVD player system cost. Further, Bismuth said, the unified architecture also helps improve the overall system performance of a DVD player.
While the servo control software, running on the unified host processor, can be optimized for a range of parameters of particular optical pickup mechanisms, very robust error detection and
recovery schemes can be built into the front-end DVD-ROM drive chip. Meanwhile, the back-end DVD decoder chip, after receiving DVD signal input, can also offer the last level of error correction
for graceful recovery.
The goal is a "scratch-proof solution," Bismuth said, by seamlessly integrating software running both on the front-end and the back-end chips. "The chip set should allow the DVD player to play back not only clean, legal DVD disks, but also illegal or legal DVD disks with some defects," he said, "so that the system offers smooth playback with no breakups or hang-ups of DVD signals."
While many semiconductor companies already offer various DVD decoder ICs, very few are armed with both front- and back-end DVD silicon solutions, Bismuth said. Besides the Japanese consumer
giants like Sony and Matsushita, which design their own front- and back-end DVD chips, LSI Logic and Oak are about the only two chip companies offering both, he said.
Cahners In-Stat Group puts worldwide DVD player shipments in 2000 at more than 13.5 million units. Bismuth said Oak plans to announce alliances with leading DVD drive vendors in the third quarter this year.
Oak will sample the OTI-9820/OTI-2650 chip set, fabricated at Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. in a 0.25-micron process, in the second quarter. Volume production starts this fall. The chip set is priced at $25, which could permit the total bill of materials for a DVD player of less than $80, Bismuth said.