Mobile device manufacturers probably don't want to do MEMC entirely in software on a multicore multiprocessor mobile SoC, either, because memory bandwidth is such a precious commodity.
While Pixelworks is not announcing a new product at CES and isn't giving out details of how it did it, the company has come up with "a solution that reduces the system-level power and improves bandwidth memory," claimed Miller.
To date, the market has yet to see a mobile SoC integrated with MEMC, even though the industry is acutely aware of the issue.
Look no further than Qualcomm's acquisition of video IC design teams from Integrated Device Technology Inc. in September 2011. The deal covers the transfer of IDT's Hollywood Quality Video (HQV) and Frame Rate Conversion (FRC) Video Processing product lines and certain related assets to Qualcomm.
Imagination Technologies reportedly has an MEMC portfolio, but it's not known how up-to-date it might be.
The fact that Pixelworks completed a $10 million equity offering last summer might not have escaped astute investors' notice, either. Reporting the company's third-quarter financial results, Bruce Walicek, president and CEO of Pixelworks, talked about "a number of other significant milestones" the company achieved during the quarter, including "a significant licensing engagement, initial samples of our co-development chip, and completion of a $10 million equity offering" that he said strengthened the balance sheet.
NXP Software, with its Philips heritage, is another company attuned to the issue and eager to fill in the "experience gap between content and [mobile] screen." The company is pitching its video sharpening software algorithms to mobile platforms.
The fact that so many embattled consumer video chip companies have already exited the TV SoC business (Broadcom, Trident, Zoran, CSR, etc.) has led to unintended consequences: the dispersion of the knowledge base on MEMC technologies (along with engineers who developed them) all over the market. As running a profitable TV business has gotten harder, technology vendors' investment in MEMC IPs has also dried up.
Backed by 15 years of display processing experience and a large portfolio of MEMC and FRC IPs, PixelWorks has been mining an emerging UHDTV market in which pixel density makes MEMC a must-have technology.
But the company isn't stopping there.
Pixelworks hired Miller 18 months ago -- specifically to bring a mobile focus to the company's technology. Miller's mobile background includes serving as CTO at PortalPlayer Inc., where he also led the company's Cellular Platform group prior to its acquisition by Nvidia in 2007.
Pixelworks is counting on content owners and vendors of tablets and smartphones attending the CES to compare the not-so-optimal video on their existing mobile device to new gadgets with display processing technology. The quality of mobile displays today has by far outpaced the quality of the content on mobile screens, and the industry's fresh challenge -- and opportunity -- is to close the gap.
— Junko Yoshida, Chief International Correspondent, EE Times