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Techwell video decoder chip targets high-end multimedia apps

Posted: 06 May 2005 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:techwell? tw9919? video decoder?

Techwell Inc. takes consumer products to a new level with the recent release of its video decoder chip designed specifically for premium multimedia applications.

Integrating a proprietary 3D comb filter for both NTSC and PAL, and a simultaneous 3D noise-reduction algorithm, the TW9919 is a 10bit multistandard 3D video decoder with SCART and RGB mixing support.

According to Tom Krause, director of marketing for Techwell, the 9919 has been receiving "good market reaction for its high-performance video decoding" since its announcement in April. He added that the company sees a growing demand for 9919 from large OEMs in Korea, Japan, Taiwan and China, particularly large manufacturers and subcontractors of advanced TVs.

"There are very few decoders that offer the same performance characteristics and can meet aggressive pricing and support requirements of customers, so feedback for 9919 has been quite favorable," he said.

The 9919 supports all major worldwide broadcasting standards, including PAL, NTSC and SECAM. It offers up to 16 inputs, is capable of up to five composite inputs and can be programmed to switch between S-video, YcbCr or SCART. It also features horizontal and vertical peaking, CTI and BCS control for improved image quality.

In addition to that, "the 9919 uses a 10bit ADC," said Krause. "We do all of this in a 128-pin TQPF package with external SDRAM. Overall, we've integrated many different features into one fully-functional decoder product with one external SDRAM, which is suitable for advanced TVs, DVD recorders and media center PC applications."

3D comb filter

What sets 9919 apart from Techwell's previous-generation products is its use of 3D comb filtering. 9919 integrates a 3D comb filter for both NTSC and PAL signals, as well as simultaneous 3D noise reduction to remove noise and artifacts seen in a typical analog signal. Multiple frame buffers process video temporally and detect the still image before applying the 3D adaptive comb filter to effectively clean up the artifacts in that still image.

"It's technology that, in the past, has been used in independent chips, and typically only for the NTSC market. What we've done is integrated that 3D comb feature in our decoder and addressed both the NTSC and PAL TV signals," Krause said.

Krause believes that customers of their 9918 and 2D video decoder products, especially those in the TV and media center PC areas, will want to upgrade any time soon due to 9919's improved video performance. Techwell has maximized 9919's video decoder core to enhance its weak-signal/non-standard signal performance.

He added that the chip's advanced 3D comb filter technology has limited side-effects in implementation. "Typically, with 3D comb filters, you'll see side-effects that may distort the video with a wrong depiction of a still image. So if you apply 3D comb technology and you detect what you think is still, but is actually moving, you get a bad side-effect. Our detection algorithms are quite good. They detect the real still part of the image, thus applying 3D comb only where it is needed."

Straightforward trend

Krause said that the TV industry is driving toward better video performance and lower price points.

"It's not really a complex trend. It's very straightforward--we're trying to improve video performance and, at the same time, reduce price points, and that's going to drive the industry forward," Krause said.

Based on applications for the company's video decoders, Krause sees strong growth in most of Techwell's major target areas, such as LCD TVs, plasma TVs and DVD recorders. Media center PCs have not seen as much volume to date, but "based on trends we're seeing out of leaders like Microsoft, Intel and Nvidia, we are also excited about that market. Frankly, we're excited about all three markets and we see big opportunities in all three areas," he said.

Techwell will also be launching TW8804, a low-cost LCD flat panel controller with integrated 2D and 4H comb NTSC/PAL/SECAM decoder, this quarter. It will target the entry-level LCD market (20-inch and below LCD TVs) and mobile video applications, including in-car entertainment and portable DVDs.

- Selena Salang

Electronic Engineering Times-Asia

Jerico Abila contributed to this report



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