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Zoran targets multimedia, HDTV

Posted: 21 Jul 2004 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:hdtv? silicon graphics? dsp? zoran? multimedia?

Levy Gerzberg was a few blocks away at Stanford University when Jim Clark took his Geometry Engine technology and founded Silicon Graphics Inc. Gerzberg, who saw this famous Silicon Valley saga unfold while working at the nearby Silicon Processing Lab, eventually founded his own company in 1983.

The company, Zoran Corp., initially a DSP-centric silicon supplier of military solutions, has grown to become a leader of the "digital living room" movement.

Last year, Zoran, based in Sunnyvale, California, completed the crucial acquisition of Oak Technology Inc. to beef up its HDTV and consumer silicon offerings. Zoran is now the top supplier of merchant chips for the HDTV market.

In June, Zoran went shopping again, this time acquiring Emblaze Semiconductor, a subsidiary of mobile phone firm Emblaze Ltd. Emblaze develops application processors for mobile multimedia devices.

Gerzberg has no qualms about the competitive nature of cellular market and deep clout of incumbent players. "Yes it's competitive, but we are only targeting the areas of synergy with our existing product lines."

Zoran sees cellular handsets moving toward mobile video and TV-like applications. "We want to connect cellphone to multimedia devices at home," added Dave Pederson, VP of corporate marketing.

Digital livingroom

Gerzberg says that digital livingroom got to be simple and there shouldn't be too many buttons. "It won't become digital overnight, though some companies would want it that way," he added. "Twenty years ago, they said analog would die, but it's still part of digital TV."

With the TV industry's transition from analog to digital, Gerzberg also sees the evolution of DVDs as a valuable case study. "Today's DVD has the computational power equivalent of a missile." DVD is now in almost every home and it's digital, he noted. "The realization of low-end HDTV is practical, the same way we did it with DVD." Zoran predicts that DVD-rewritable technology will take off this year now that the technology is maturing. Earlier products just weren't ready for the consumer market, Gerzberg added.

Zoran also is pushing an aggressive integration strategy. According to Gerzberg, most functions will be integrated on silicon, with only memory and power separate.

The next big thing, the Zoran chief said, is a tapeless camcorder. Commercial products could be ready by this Christmas. A sensor to support high-quality video, backend memory or storage and signal processing would make up the major building blocks of a tapeless camcorder.

Gerzberg also anticipates a boom in digital printing. "There were 20 billions shots taken with digital cameras in 2003, and only a very small number were printed."

According to Gerzberg, Asia's place in manufacturing is assured, and design engineers in China are developing their own products for the domestic market. Chinese engineers and designers have much greater familiarity with platforms, he added.

- Majeed Ahmad

EE Times - Asia

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