LONDON ( ChipWire) -- Parthus Technologies plc, a developer of semiconductor intellectual property, islicensing a collection of Internet-audio hardware and software modules that can be
implemented as a single-chip MP3 player at a silicon cost of less than $5, the company said.
The company's MediaStream platform supports a range of audio equipment types and
functions, from MP3 portable players and cell phones to speech recognition for mobile devices
and devices with Bluetooth connectivity.
As a measure of the value Parthus puts on its platform, the company said MediaStream's first
publicly known licensee, Creative Technology Ltd. in Singapore, has signed a multimillion-dollar
deal covering the next few years.
While ARM Ltd. in Cambridge, England, holds a minority interest in Parthus, MediaStream is
microprocessor-independent. It's based on the DSP2410, a 24-bit Harvard architecture DSP
developed by Parthus four years ago and used subsequently in a lot of its audio-design work.
In addition, Parthus offers analog components, pieces of audio software and serial and parallel
audio, and regular data interfaces. They include interfaces to flash memory and flash memory
Creative, best known for its Soundblaster range of sound cards for PCs, plans to use
MediaStream as the base technology for its future MP3 players.
"MediaStream's ultra-low power requirements, programmability and surroundsound effects are
the key advantages of this platform," said Sean Mitchell, director of multimedia at Parthus in Dublin, Ireland. "Our technology and unique platform approach is enabling Creative to rapidly
build lighter, smaller and more powerful next-generation MP3 players."
"Connectivity, programmability, mobility and time-to-market are the key advantages to
licensing mobile-Internet platforms from Parthus," said Hock Leow, Creative's chief technology
officer. "Moreover, licensing from Parthus enables us to cost-effectively source our chips from
a foundry of choice."
Mitchell said the digital hardware component of MediaStream has been implemented in silicon
using 0.18-micron CMOS, but it's available for license as an HDL file at the register-transfer
level, in netlist format at the gate level or as a GDS-II tape at the layout level.
Mitchell said a C compiler and third-party development tools are available to support the DSP,
but their names will be disclosed only to customers or potential customers prepared to sign a
The quantified power consumption of any configuration of the MediaStream was also
confidential, Mitchell said, adding that MediaStream was, "as good or better than any other
audio IP platform. The Cirrus Logic MP3 player; we can beat them."
The speech recognition claimed for MediaStream results from third-party software running on
the DSP2410. Mitchell would not identify the company whose software has been licensed or
say if Parthus could sublicense it.