SUNNYVALE, Calif. -- Philips Semiconductors today will expand its efforts in the set-top box chip arena, announcing a new, low-cost solution based on a RISC processor core from Mips Technologies Inc.
The new pnx8320 chip is designed for use in developing a low-cost, multi-function set-top box for as low as $100 in terms of total bill-of-material costs, said Thierry Fautier, product marketing manager for the Digital Video Interactive Group at Philips Semiconductors. Philips Semiconductors is the chip subsidiary of Royal Philips Electronics NV of Eindhoven, the Netherlands.
In addition to standard set-top box services, the pnx8320 also supports two-dimensional graphics, audio/video decoding, Internet browsing, MP3, personal video recording, V.90-compatible software-modem, and other functions, said Fautier. "What we have developed is a chip for the mid-range segments of the set-top box market," he added said.
The chip also supports various major broadcast standards, such as Digital Video Broadcasting (DVB), he said. It also handles a wide variety of international encoding and de-scrambling standards, he added.
Philips is one of several chip companies competing in the exploding set-top box market. Other major chip suppliers in this arena include C-Cube, Conexant, LSI Logic, NEC, and STMicroelectronics.
The pnx8320 is actually the second member of Philips' new Nexperia Home Entertainment Engine chip line. Last month, the company rolled out its first Nexperia chip--the pnx8500, which is a higher-end chip based on a dual-processor architecture. Designed for high-end set-top boxes, the pnx8500 is based on RISC processor from Mips Technologies as well as a multimedia chip from TriMedia Technologies Inc.
Unlike the pnx8500, the new pnx8320 does not include the TriMedia chip. Like the pnx8500, however, the new chip is powered by Mips' R3940, a 32-bit, 133-MHz RISC processor core designed for use in high-speed embedded applications.
The new pnx8320 is also based on a 32-bit unified memory architecture (UMA), which provides a total memory bandwidth of 523-megabits-per-second. The UMA architecture also enables the CPU code, audio, video, and graphics to be stored in the same main memory.
The chip also includes a digital signal processor (DSP), which supports MPEG-1, MPEG-2, Dolby Digital, G729, G729A, and other functions. The Dolby Digital function also includes support for Dolby AC-3 streams at speeds up to 640-kilobits-per-second.
The pnx8320 also supports SDRAM and various flash-memory chip architectures, such as NOR, NAND, and synchronized flash (SyncFlash). It also supports software middleware programs such as OpenTV, MediaHighway, LiberateTV, and MHP.
The pnx8320 is priced at $20 each in 50,000-unit lots. It will begin sampling in December, with production slated for the second quarter of 2001.