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New STB solution supports H.264/AVC, VC1 specs

Posted: 12 Jan 2005 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:stmicroelectronics? st? stb? h.264/avc? vc1?

STMicroelectronics (ST) announced what it claims as the world's first single-chip STB solution supporting the High Definition H.264/AVC and VC1 specifications.

According to the company, the extraordinary level of integration of the new device, which combines all the STB functions and multi-standard decoding circuitry into a single chip rather than being an add-on processor for an existing product, coupled with its 90nm process technology, results in the most cost-efficient solution and minimizes both design and production costs for STB makers.

Both the VC1 (Microsoft's Windows Media 9 Series codec) and H.264/AVC (Advanced Video Coding) standard (also known as MPEG-4 Part 10) are efficient, fully scalable video technologies that produce high quality video at lower data rates than current solutions, explained ST. Services broadcast using H.264 use considerably less bandwidth than the currently widely used MPEG-2 coding scheme, and at a much lower bitrate, allowing broadcasters to transmit more high definition programming. Compression efficiency is improved by more than 50 percent, added the company.

"By creating our STB7100 H.264 solution as a single chip in 90nm technology instead of taking the simpler co-processor path, ST is providing manufacturers with by far the most cost-effective base for their products in this market," commented Christos Lagomichos, GM of ST's STB Division. "The demand for new H.264 and VC1 video codec chips is incredible, and the availability of the STB7100 means that consumers will soon have HDTV boxes, IP-TV and DVDs that use the latest standard, and broadcasters will be encouraged to further develop their services. And this is the ideal platform for the HD-DVD and Blue-Ray DVD technologies."

The STB7100 can simultaneously decode multiple HD streams and output the resultant video to two television sets, or display picture-in-picture. Its CPU core is a high-performance 300MHz ST40, ST's 32bit RISC family based on the SuperH architecture. It supports all of the current STB operating systems and middleware, with power to spare for software enhancements in the future.

ST added that its new device is based on an innovative video decoding architecture which combines hardware and software techniques to allow systems to be upgraded in the field to support new standards as they become available. For Digital Video Recorder (DVR) applications, it features embedded peripheral interfaces, including serial, ATA and USB 2.0, to allow external devices to be added to an STB or DVD player, either during manufacture or by the viewer, in order to provide additional functionality. Other peripherals that could be connected to an STB through the USB interface include digital cameras, printers and memory cards.

The STB7100 is available in sample quantities in a 35-by-35mm PBGA package and costs $29 when purchased in large volumes. Volume production is planned for early 2005.

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