NEC chip enables home entertainment 'box of tricks'

Will TV ever be the same again?
Written by John Lui, Contributor

Will TV ever be the same again?

Japanese electronics company NEC has unveiled an all-in-one chip that can act as a digital video broadcast decoder and power next-generation entertainment devices that record to either a DVD or a hard disk. The chip routes the data streams that flow from digital sources and performs various digital decoding, compression and decompression tasks. Previously, such jobs had to be split among various processors, according to NEC. Shigeo Niitsu, general manager at NEC, said: "As the price reduction in DVD recorders continues, demand for highly integrated devices is growing rapidly." The processor analyses compressed data for storing, reading and editing, and offers multistandard data processing, including DVD video and digital video broadcasting. The chip performs high-speed data conversion between hard disk and DVD drives and enables consumers to use several record and replay functions including time shift, record and playback of different channels, according to NEC. Up to four drives can be supported through its dual-ATA feature, a connection mode more usually seen in computers than in consumer electronics. This allows consumers to multitask, such as time-shifting playback with a hard drive while programming on a DVD drive. The chip incorporates a dual-CPU architecture, bearing two 225-MIPS CPUs. One is assigned to audio decompression, while the other provides processing power for user applications, including high-quality graphical user interface and networking products. The processor will be commercially available to manufacturers in the third quarter of 2003 at $30 in quantities of more than 100,000 pieces.
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