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WISchip unveils SoC solution for A/V apps

Posted: 22 Mar 2005 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:wischip international? wischip? cypher 7108? system-on-chip? soc?

To address the increasingly demanding multimedia data storage and transmission requirements of home entertainment and surveillance systems, WISchip International Ltd announced the release of its Cypher 7108 system-on-chip (SoC) audio/video (A/V) encoding solution.

The 7108 is an improvement of the older GO7007SB, said Jim Nguyen, director of marketing for WISchip. "Our previous product was the 7007SB, which was only a video encoder. What we've added to Cypher is the SoC functionality."

The Cypher 7108 boasts of SoC functionality with integrated A/V encoding, a 166MHz CPU, a single DDR 32bit memory interface, and direct connections for ATAPI, Ethernet, PCI, HPI, USB 2.0, I?C and I?S. It also features advanced scene change detection, noise filters, a video preview engine, seamless A/V synchronization and video source error-handling capabilities.

"Cypher 7108 provides system designers with flexibility," shared Nguyen. "With minor modifications to its base design, customers can easily and cost-effectively extend its functionality to support an array of applications ranging from personal video recorders (PVRs) to media gateways to streaming IP camera devices."

Media filling stations

PVRs have the potential to serve as "media filling stations," which fill personal media players (PMPs) with digital content. Cypher 7108 chips in PVRs work by taking analog TV signals in NTSC or PAL format and encoding them into MPEG-1/2/4, then sending them to a PCI bus via 802.11 or through Ethernet to a network-attached storage system or any other device in the house.

"The filling station is interesting because for PMPs, the question is: how do you fill it with content?" Nguyen said. "That's exactly what this chip does. You can store TV shows on your hard drive, and when you bring home your player, it can be synchronized and put into contact with your PVR."

Nguyen believes that consumers will want to extend the reach of content. "Basically, what we're seeing today are point-to-point connections, which are your HDTV and your STB tied to your PC through HDMI/DVI, USB or IEEE 1394. But we'll eventually see that these devices will reside on the network and that these boxes will be services in the home," Nguyen added. "For example, when I want to play a TV, I don't need to be playing from the actual tuner that is sitting on top of it. I can play from the tuner that is sitting in my living room."

Up and running

It took the company about 14 months to develop Cypher 7108. "During the project, we did a lot of verification, and it was pretty painful because we had to put this entire chip on nine FPGAs to verify," Nguyen said. The first 7007 chip got up and running in about 2 hours, while the 7007SB did so in about 90 minutes.

The Cypher 7108 is WISchip's third chip. According to Nguyen, they were able to get the chips up and running so fast is because they "do a lot of back-end design verification during mass production. "

"Other challenges were the MPEG-4 encoding itself, which is pretty difficult; having a unified memory architecture; shrinking down the size of the chip; and making sure that we've got the various audio applications hooked up appropriately," Nguyen added.

Nguyen believes that the product is especially important in Asia based on the current demand for WISchip's previous 7007SB chip. He feels that since 7108 is an improvement of the 7007, customers will be more excited this time.

"Customers are anticipating the product because it's a single-chip solution. We're probably one of the few companies that can do MPEG-4 advanced simple profile encoding. As you know, our bandwidths are very important, and that's why a lot of people want to be able to transmit MPEG-4."

- Selena Salang

Electronic Engineering Times-Asia

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