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On Demand readies multimedia IC for 2007 launch

Posted: 24 Aug 2006 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Analog Devices? ADI? On Demand Microelectronics? silicon IP? SoC?

Analog Devices Inc. spin-off On Demand Microelectronics AG is embarking on an aggressive IP strategy to bring new programmable solutions for multimedia applications currently done in hardware.

The Vienna-based firm aims to complement existing SoCs or systems with video encode, decode and image-processing functions. It plans to launch its own chip in the Q1 of 2007 and is currently identifying suitable markets for the multimedia chip.

At the recent Embedded Systems Conference (ESC-Taiwan) held in Taipei, Rumman Syed, business development manager at On Demand, said that most hardware applications are carried out by dedicated hardware. Take the example of DTV functionality, with three of its key building blocksdemodulation, decoding and post-processor image processingall done in specialized hardware.

Boasting expertise in design architecture, On Demand Microelectronics has picked DTV as the foundation of its multimedia business venture. It also hopes to bring new architectures in all these domains. For starters, the design firm has picked high-definition decode circuitry to execute in software. Image processorsalso done in hardwareare next on its to-do-in-software list.

The low power consumption of On Demand's SVENm makes it suitable for portable products.
The low power consumption of On Demand's SVENm makes it suitable for portable products.
Syed said that the firm carefully evaluates the application, configures the processing requirements and drafts instruction sets for each processing unit. "We also help customers in hardware selection by recommending suitable processors, and then we pre-configure software solutions for these processors," he said.

He added that such application-specific architectures will save design engineers from doing hardware respins and help them achieve better time-to-market. "There are simply too many multimedia standards out there, and it would be extremely difficult to implement all of them in hardware," he said.

According to Syed, the drive to execute such multimedia features in software is gaining traction. For instance, an MP3 decoder was done all in a hardware block five years ago, while today, all it needs is 20 MIPS.

The design architecture firm has a headcount of 48, with its lead design team based in Vienna, Austria. On Demand Microelectronics, which has its Asian offices in Tokyo and Taipei, recently opened an office in Seoul. The company has an aggressive timeline for expansion in Asia and hopes to significantly increase the number of field application engineers across Asia by next year.

- Majeed Ahmad
Electronic Engineering Times-Asia

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