The programs come at a time when some observers say Technicolor is morphing into a licensing company that has shed its history as a TV maker under the former Thomson and RCA. Ed Thompson said the company is still a leading maker of set-top boxes and home gateways, and the certification programs add a new tech licensing dimension to large businesses licensing its patents and brands.
Technicolor's 4K image certification program is focused on video processors that support scaling HD content to UHD resolution. Besides checking the resolution, it monitors edge sharpness, contrast, and unwanted artifacts.
"If you could repurpose your library for 4K content, it could break the logjam until native 4K content is in the marketplace," said Thompson.
"Some of the first 4K upscalars in China-made TVs were criticized for not looking good, and if 4K gets panned because it doesn't look good, that's not good for us or anyone," he added.
Startup Marseille Networks Inc. made the first video processor to get the 4K image certification, its VTV-122X. The 65nm chip used in a new Toshiba Blu-ray player sells for less than $10 in volume and draws less than 0.6W. Thompson said the 4K program has so far generated "a couple inquiries and some interest under NDA."
For its part, Marseille claims it effectively can turn a $5,000 HDTV into a 4K-capable set for the added $10 chip cost. It has as many as a dozen other design wins in TVs, set-tops and Blu-ray players, said George Alexy, the company's vice president of marketing.
"We want to be the Nvidia of video," said Alexy of the company, founded in 2005.
Marseille faces stiff competition from a wide array of players including Marvell, Mediatek, and SoCs made in-house by large consumer companies such as Panasonic.