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Protocom overcomes portable constraints with hard-wired video SoC

Posted: 11 Jan 2005 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:protocom technology? system-on-chip? soc? international consumer electronics showcase? ces?

Protocom Technology Corp. sprung a full-duplex, hard-wired SoC audio/video solution at the International Consumer Electronics Showcase (CES) in Las Vegas.

The GoldenREEL PR818S overcomes the low-bit rate, low power constraints of portable entertainment products such as digital camcorders, handheld personal video recorders (PVRs) and personal media players, said Isaac van Kempen, VP of marketing at Protocom Technology.

The GoldenREEL PR818S codec and GoldenREEL PR828 encoder devices provide consumer OEMs full-range motion and higher resolution video for next-generation products, van Kempen said. Both the PR818S and PR828 are fabricated in 0.13&miocr;m process technology and support the MPEG-4 Advanced Simple Profile (ASP) standard at up to NTSC/PAL (D1) resolutions.

"MPEG-2 compression by definition has limitations in video quality and frame-rates in portable products that result in a generally poor video experience for the user," said Michelle Abraham, senior analyst at InStat/MDR. "The growing expectation for quality digital video display within cellphones, personal media players and other mobile products will benefit from the introduction of Protocom's hard-wired implementation of MPEG-4 ASP video compression solution."

Two years ago, also at CES, Protocom introduced the PR818A, the predecessor to the PR818S. This device was much different than the newer one in that it was a video only codec, without audio, van Kempen said. Furthermore, there was no embedded microprocessor and it was a different concept in silicon, he said. The new PR818A was developed using a 0.18?m CMOS process, instead of the ).13 process.

Protocom went back to the drawing board for the PR818S to reduce power consumption and cost through optimization, shared van Kempen. The newer CMOS process enabled lower power consumption (400mW versus 750mW), more integration, and a 40 percent less cost difference, he said.

There is a pretty sizeable difference (50 percent reduction) in the actual die area size when you go from shrinking the die from 0.18?m to 0.13?m, as well as a difference in package size, van Kempen said. The package size for the PR818A is 16.5-by-16.5mm 380 BGA, compared to the new package size of 14-by-14mm, also offered in a 380 BGA package.

According to van Kempen, the GoldenREEL PR818S is the industry's first single-chip full-duplex, hard-wired MPEG-4 silicon codec with ASP. It supports full frame rates of 30fps with up to D1 resolution, adaptive differential pulse code modulation (ADPCM) audio and full transcoding capabilities to and from MPEG-4 and MPEG-2 (as well as other transcoding options).

Protocom's MPEG-4 ASP solution is a significant advancement over current MPEG-4 Simple Profile (SP) solutions now on the market, van Kempen said. The integrated ARM922T core within the PR818S eliminates the need for a system host processor and provides system flexibility via firmware supporting various audio formats such as MP3, AAC and WMA.

In addition to the PR818S codec, which is designed for use in digital video recorders (DVRs), PVRs and video/voice-over-Internet Protocol (VoIP), Protocom is announcing the GoldenREEL PR828 encoder-only device. "By removing the decoder function, we can now reduce the cost by $3 when there is only an encoder requirement," van Kempen said.

The company is also offering a universal engineering development platform, Emerge, that is based on the GoldenREEL PR818S and provides the OEM developer savings in time-to-market and product creation. Emerge is a hardware platform solution that includes the PR818S as well as other semiconductor components from Philips, Micron and others.

Samples of the Protocom GoldenREEL PR818S and PR828 are already available. Production volume is expected by the end of this quarter. The PR818S full codec is priced at $22, while the PR828 encoder is available for $19, both in 100,000-piece orders.

- Bettyann Liotta


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