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Jade eyes PMP, IP camera design wins

Posted: 01 May 2007 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:personal media players? Internet Protocol? IP cameras?

Jade Technologies Co. Ltd plans to leverage its image- and video-processing expertise into design wins in China's growing markets for personal media players (PMPs) and Internet Protocol camera designs.

The PMP market in China is small, but growing fast, as dozens of domestic suppliers vie with global players from South Korea, Taiwan and Europe. It's fertile ground for a startup in the multimedia-chip business, but it still won't be easy for Jade to reap design wins for its first chip.

"My job now is to sell. There are lots of fast-moving, creative companies in Shenzhen that are interested in this market, so we need to focus on supporting them first," said He Ouyang, president and CEO of Jade.

The fabless semiconductor developer is promoting its Z228 MPEG-4-based codec chip for smart phones and PMPs, and is awaiting the results of a tape-out for a new version of the chip that also handles H.264 and VC-1 decoding in hardware.

Rising China fabless stars Actions Semiconductor and Vimicro are also pushing into the multimedia-chip market, competing with the likes of Sigma Design, Broadcom, Texas Instruments, Samsung and Sunplus Technology. Yet there should be room for smaller chip makers such as Jade and Anyka Corp., if they offer a high level of support to customers in a rush to get to market.

Big markets
Early adopters are the primary market for PMPs in China, according to market researcher In-Stat Inc. PMP shipments in China will reach 1.43 million in 2010, driven in part by stronger games capability and the addition of mobile TV, Wi-Fi and GPS. The U.S. market is expected to be 10 times that size, largely due to sales of Apple's iPod.

Jade's Z228 is based on an embedded ARM926EJ core and uses Jazzelle Java. It supports MPEG-4 hardware encoding at up to 30fps-Simple Profile (L0-L3) and Advanced Simple Profile (L4-L6). Decode is up to 30fps, and bit rates are up to 8Mbps. Encoding image resolutions range from 96 x 96pixels to 640 x 480pixels (VGA) in 4x4 steps; decoding ranges from 48 x 48pixels to 640 x 480pixels in steps of one macroblock.

Z228 is primed for personal media players and Internet Protocol cameras, and supports encoding/decoding at 30fps.

The design includes a multiport, low-latency SDRAM controller with programmable arbiter that connects as much as 8Mbytes of external SDRAM or mobile SDRAM running at 133MHz.

The developer is also leveraging the Z228 into IP camera applications by offering a macroblock-based motion-detection algorithm that users can set for sensitivity and detection range. The chip's network interface supports 10/100Mbit wired Ethernet and 802.11b/g WLAN. Video bit rates and frame rates are configurable, and supported resolutions range from QCIF to VGA.

For smart-phone applications, the Z228 comes in a 441-pin TFBGA, at 15-by-15mm, 0.65mm pitch. For other applications, the package is a 400-pin TFBGA, 17-by-17mm, 0.8mm pitch. Pricing is $14 to $15 for 10,000-unit quantities.

- Mike Clendenin
EE Times

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