Global Sources
EE Times-Asia
Stay in touch with EE Times Asia
EE Times-Asia > Amplifiers/Converters

ST ships 100M MPEG-2 chips, eyes DVD

Posted: 10 Jan 2003 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:mpeg-2? set-top box? dvd playback? stmicroelectronics? directv?

When General Motors subsidiary Hughes Electronics Corp. set out to pioneer a satellite-based digital TV service as an alternative to cable eight years ago, the onus of providing silicon came to STMicroelectronics.

The service dubbed as "DirecTV" was an instant hit in the U.S., pawning a multimedia revolution that became synonymous to the underlying technology: MPEG-2. STMicro, who emerged as the MPEG-2 pioneer, has not looked back since then.

Although everyone in the DirecTV supply chain was a winner, STMicro was probably the biggest beneficiary. Over the years, it transformed itself from a Franco-Italian semiconductor laggard into the world's top-five chipmakers.

On January 6, STMicro announced that its cumulative shipments of MPEG-2 devices to STB manufacturers have exceeded 100 million units since the first decoder chips were produced back in 1995.

STMicro pioneered the MPEG-2 chips in STBs when it introduced the world's first discrete cosine transform (DCT) processor in 1988 and the world's first motion estimation processor in 1990.

The DVD play

While maintaining a substantial lead in the STB space, STMicro is eyeing another high-growth, high-stake frontier: DVD. The chipmaker has recently announced a silicon solution for DVD playback in which all of the analog and digital circuitry has been put together in two chips.

The two chips in STMicro's solution handle all of the playback functions, from the analog interface to the optical unit, through digital servo control, audio and video decoding, video encoding, and a sextuple video DAC, to DVD system-level control functions. In addition, the two chips run in a unified memory architecture (UMA), which means they operate together sharing just one SDRAM chip and one flash memory chip, reducing to the minimum the total number of memory chips.

"DVD has already achieved the most successful consumer rollout in business history," said Bob Krysiak, group VP of STMicro's DVD division. In their fourth year in the marketplace, DVD players outpaced the initial sales of CD players by 3 to 1 and VCRs by 7 to 1.

According to a recent report from industry analyst Gartner Dataquest, the market for DVD players is expected to enjoy strong growth over the next few years.

STMicro has done quite well in using its MPEG-2 prowess to establish a stronghold in the set-top box market. If it is able to innovate in the DVD space, despite intense competition here, ST can use its MPEG skills to turn itself into a multimedia dynamo.

- Majeed Ahmad

Electronic Engineering Times - Asia

Article Comments - ST ships 100M MPEG-2 chips, eyes DVD
*? You can enter [0] more charecters.
*Verify code:


Visit Asia Webinars to learn about the latest in technology and get practical design tips.

Back to Top