PLANO, TX Anticipating the massive technology transformation that will convert the North American TV market to all-digital broadcasts, Microtune®, Inc. unveiled a breakthrough 3-in-1 TV tuner engineered to drive very high-end digital TV reception quality into the cost-sensitive consumer TV mass market.
Integrating three tuners, analog, digital and cable, in a tiny chip smaller than a thumbtack, Microtune’s new MicroTuner MT2131 tuner delivers benchmark-setting performance that exceeds all three existing U.S. TV requirements: ATSC, NTSC and Digital Cable Ready (DCR). Eliminating more than one hundred components from the silicon tuner bill of materials, the MT2131 slashes RF chip cost by sixty percent. By dramatically breaking through the sub-$3.00 cost barrier, it finally enables manufacturers to deploy a tuner with an unmatched level of performance across all TV models, sizes and price points, from multi-tuner, giant-screen home theatres and DCR TVs to affordable DVD recorders and inexpensive DTV set-top converter boxes.
“Based on years of R&D investment, the MT2131 is engineered to be the industry’s best TV tuner,” said James A. Fontaine, Microtune’s President and CEO. “It is the only device, module or silicon, to fully support both analog and digital TV transmissions across either cable or terrestrial broadcasts. Manufacturers can use our single, flexible tuner to cost-effectively smooth the digital transition across all kinds of TV electronics, while bridging the multiple standards that co-exist today.”
While the quality of the TV display has recently commanded a great deal of consumer focus, it is the tuner that actually sets the quality of the TV signal, the quality of picture and, ultimately, the quality of the TV experience viewed through the screen.
“Since 1998, the U.S. digital TV transition has been marred by complaints from broadcasters and consumers that the digital TV signal specified by ATSC does not work as well as expected,” said Gerry Kaufhold, Principal Analyst with In-Stat. “As Congress and the FCC move toward complete cut-off of analog TV signals in February 2009, the viability of digital terrestrial services is under critical pressure to perform up to par. Tuners using a dual-conversion architecture approach, such as Microtune's newly announced MT2131 silicon tuner, are designed to provide the best-in-class reception needed to realize the inherent advantages and strengths of digital transmission.”
From a consumer perspective, the MT2131 is engineered to solve each of the three technical problems commonly identified by consumers as sources of DTV dissatisfaction —TV picture break-up from interference, TV picture freezing and TV picture loss. In fact, it also significantly improves TV reception using indoor antennas, another major consumer-related concern associated with today’s digital broadcasts.
Based on Microtune’s patented silicon tuner architecture, the MT2131 exceeds the expected performance defined by standards committees for the ATSC A/74 and Digital Cable Ready DTV specifications, while also delivering superior analog (NTSC) reception.
“The MT2131 outperformed tuner cans and far outpaced all other silicon tuners that were evaluated in our internal tests against the A/74 and DCR technical specifications and in tests conducted on our part by leading TV manufacturers,” Fontaine continued. “For us, the MT2131 is another milestone achievement in our history of innovating the industry’s most advanced RF integrated circuits. It reflects our continuing mission to raise the tuner performance bar for our customers across their TV, cable, computer and handheld products, while significantly reducing their RF solutions costs.”
Engineered with excellent sensitivity, the MT2131 also exceeded, by a wide margin, the sensitivity-measurement tests published by the FCC this past December in its study of a large group of retail DTV receivers. The MT2131’s added margin in sensitivity translates directly into an increase in digital TV signal coverage area for broadcasters.
Sensitivity is one of two key RF technical concerns of TV manufactures; the other is adjacent channel rejection. The MT2131 is also engineered to achieve superior sensitivity while providing excellent linearity, typically a difficult challenge for RF, analog and mixed signal integrated circuits. The MT2131’s linearity performance enables it to provide industry-leading adjacent channel rejection, a measure of the ability of the tuner to block an interfering broadcast transmitter in order to tune a much weaker signal from another transmitter further away. The MT2131 also offers a superior composite distortion performance, key for DCR applications.
A single-chip device implemented in a 7mm x 7mm 48-pin MLF package, the MT2131 receives frequencies in the full 48 MHz to 1.0 GHz range and converts a selected channel to a standard intermediate frequency (IF) between 30 MHz and 57 MHz. The tuner works with all analog and digital demodulators, giving manufacturers maximum design flexibility.
Characterized by a very high level of integration, the MT2131 incorporates several critical RF components on chip, including functions that have never been implemented as circuits before. The MT2131 includes: variable gain low noise amplifier, closed-loop AGC RF gain control, integrated broadband power detectors, variable gain IF amplifier, Microtune ClearTune filter, and FDC Path for DCR applications.
Further reducing costs, the MT2131 offers a single-ended input to eliminate an expensive balanced transformer.
With unmatched integration, the MT2131 shrinks tuner size by approximately 300% compared to traditional tuner cans, making it ideal for picture-in picture, personal video recorder or other multi-tuner architectures or for small, space-constrained TV electronics. The device operates with 5V and 3.3 V power supply.
The MT2131 tuner is sampling now to select customers and is priced at less than $3.00 in volume quantities. To simplify evaluation and design for qualified customers, Microtune offers a MicroTuner MT2131 RF Evaluation Board and Reference Design.