NEW YORK – Silicon Image is “going back to the future” – literally and figuratively. With Camillo Martino at its helm, Silicon Image is putting its focus back on the company’s core competency: serial connectivity.
In parallel, the Sunnyvale, Calif. company is also planning to introduce to TV architecture what the company calls “a connectivity co-processor, something akin to the southbridge on a PC motherboard,” according to Martino. Matino became Silicon Image’s CEO a year ago after Steve Tirado abruptly resigned in Sept., 2009.
Camillo Martino, CEO at Silicon Image
In a recent EE Times interview at the Consumer Electronics Show, Martino acknowledged that, “Looking back, I think we [Silicon Image] were trying to become somebody that we are not.”
He added: “During 2007 and 2009, we took our eyes off our core business – connectivity. We were making a secondary type of decisions in that area.”
Under Martino, gone are Silicon Image’s previous flagship efforts
known as LiquidHD (originally unveiled at CES in 2009 with much fanfare).
Brand-new projects at Silicon Image, since Martino’s arrival, include an initiative around a “connectivity co-processor.”
Silicon Image had developed LiquidHD, an IP-based home networking solution consisting of a suite of protocols and a new partitioning of functionality for devices. Its goal was to sort out the thorny interoperability issue of digital content distribution at home, a project clearly too big for Silicon Image’s capabilities. Today, the web site (http://www.liquidhd.com/), originally developed for the LiquidHD Adopter Program, no longer functions.
In contrast, Silicon Image’s connectivity co-processor is focused on meeting the desire of many TV manufacturers who want to transform today’s “not-so-intelligent TVs to smart TVs,” Martino explained. For that, connectivity will become a key building block.
As a growing number of connectivity standards (which are both numerous and in a constant state of evolution) are popping up on the consumer electronics device market, “it is a real challenge for most SoC vendors to keep up,” said Martino. “Unless you are one of those companies like Broadcom, MediaTek or Mstar, enabling every new connectivity capability in your SoC is too big an investment to make.”
How exactly does Silicon Image try to define a “connectivity co-processor”?
Calling the connectivity co-processor conceptually close to the southbridge on a PC motherboard, Martino explained that there is a demand for a co-processor that can flexibly address the elusive nature of constantly changing connectivity technologies.
Connectivity blocks relevant to CE devices, in Martino’s mind, include everything from HDMI, MHL, Ethernet, USB to Bluetooth and a host of other wireless standards.
Decoupling connectivity elements from an SoC could also create a level-playing field for chip vendors and OEMs, many of whom are Silicon Image’s customers. If one could integrate a connectivity co-processor that addresses a multiple connectivity standards, “this will only drive more standards-based wireless and wired connectivity,”
Does this mean that Silicon Image hopes to become the ultimate arbitrator of standards for connectivity co-processors?
No, said Martino. “We don’t have any hidden agenda here. We want to be a Switzerland [in the connectivity debate].”