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Toshiba tailors RF devices for digital TV tuners

Posted: 22 Oct 2002 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:digital TV receivers? Toshiba America Electronic Components? RF components? TV receiver tuners? DTV reception?

Preparing for the emergence of digital TV receiver as the standard broadcast format in the latter half of this decade, Toshiba America Electronic Components is introducing a series of RF components that equip TV receiver tuners for DTV reception.

In addition to new tuner designs, the company's series of varactors, MOSFETs, and diodes will likely be retrofitted to some analog tuners that will be manufactured in Asia and shipped to the United States, said Jay Heinecke, business development director for the company's components unit. Toshiba's position as a manufacturer of consumer television systems gives it a "leg up" as a components supplier, he said.

Toshiba already owns 40 percent of the market for analog RF discrete components and 15 percent of the market for digital RF devices, said Tom Chand, business development engineer for Toshiba America Electronic Components. Competitors in this field include Infineon Technologies AG and RF Micro Devices Inc.

Toshiba's DTV components are optimized for high gain and frequency response with low noise figures for a DTV application, said Al Klase, senior member of Toshiba's technical staff. In North America, digital TV receiver broadcasts are effectively overlaid and delivered simultaneous with analog transmissions, he said. Current-generation tuners must be capable of locking stations in the 30MHz-to-300MHz VHF band, the 300MHz-to-3GHz UHF bands and all standard cable bands. New-generation tuners must also support IRC and HRC bands. The frequency bandwidth remains the same but the components must have higher sensitivity to capture the QAM-64 signal overlaid on the analog signal, Klase explained.

The composite analog signal, 6-MHz wide, contains three signals: a video carrier, an audio carrier, and chroma carrier. A comb filter is needed to extract analog carriers from the multiple signals in the same band, he said.

Responsive to FCC mandate

The new components are being introduced in response to a five-year DTV phase-in process mandated by the Federal Communications Commission, which requires all TV receiver sets with screens larger than 13 inches to include a digital tuner by 2007, said Jay Heinecke. But the turnaround is faster for larger models, as 50 percent of new 35-inch TVs will need to be equipped with DTV capability by 2004, according to the FCC. In addition, all TV receiving equipment, such as VCRs and DVD player/recorders, must be capable of receiving DTV after July 1, 2007.

Today, television stations in many areas broadcast both conventional analog TV receiver signals and digital signals, but use additional spectrum for the digital broadcasts. More than 200 stations are already broadcasting digital TV signals that are capable of reaching an estimated 70 percent of U.S. homes, according to Toshiba.

Under FCC guidelines, once 85 percent of a broadcaster's viewing area is capable of receiving a digital signal, the broadcaster must give back its analog spectrum, which the government plans to auction for use in other applications. Consumers with older TV receivers will be able to buy STBs if they want to receive broadcasts from digital stations for analog TVs.

DTV promises improved picture quality with vivid pictures and crisp sound for regular TV receiver programs, as well as additional services such as videogames, Internet browsing and other interactive services. A DTV signal can also provide CD-quality audio and/or 5.1-channel surround sound.

- Stephan Ohr

EE Times

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