Panasonic's latest video recorder underscores the idea that sometimes you just can't have enough storage. A poster platform for the store/time shift/share philosophy, the DMR-E80H records video content directly to an internal 80-Gbyte, 3.5-inch hard-disk drive and allows subsequent writing of content onto DVD-RAM-compatible media.
The DMR-E80H's eight circuit boards support dozens of ICs. The large main circuit board ties together the hard disk, DVD drive electronics, user-interface circuit boards and high-density controller card (detailed in the figure). The main board is based on single-sided phenolic board technology-a long-standing workhorse of the A/V box industry, where cost is king and component density is modest.
Panasonic has corralled the most complex IC devices and advanced packaging within the controller card, the main engine for media processing. Fine-pitch area-array ceramic BGA devices drive the need for higher interconnect density locally, and system partitioning suggests this same island of complexity may be the main target for future integration.
Numerous Panasonic-manufactured devices and a supporting cast of memory components are central to the controller board. A Panasonic MN103E0500 optical disk controller provides the interface to the DVD-RAM assembly. Similarly, dedicated Panasonic DSPs (the MN85572 and MN6775511, respectively) are used to implement MPEG encode and decode, and a Panasonic MN85620GL stream controller takes care of overall data flow to and between the hard drive and DVD.
Panasonic and Burr-Brown components manage translation between the analog and digital video domains. SDRAMs from Hynix, Micron, Oki and Samsung are used in conjunction with flash devices-also supplied by Samsung and Oki-for overall memory content.
The extensive use of off-the shelf building blocks speaks to an emphasis on time-to-market, lower development costs and risk mitigation in what is likely a dynamic product segment.
The total estimated cost-of-goods-sold is around half of the best current retail price for the Panasonic DMR-E80H recorder.
The DMR-E80H employs storage, component and manufacturing technologies to bring together what is arguably the killer product for the video enthusiast. Expect lower box costs-and, one hopes, some end to the standards wars for recordable DVD formats-to drive interest among a much broader consumer base down the road.
David Carey is president of Portelligent (www.teardown.com; Austin, Texas), which produces teardown reports and related industry research on wireless, mobile and personal electronics.