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Amimon boasts WHDI tech in HDTV design win

Posted: 07 Nov 2008 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:TV tuner? design win? media receiver? HDTV?

Consumer electronics makers are differentiating TV tuner and media receiver units from HDTV displays, thus releasing the first round of a wireless home network struggle emphasizing on simple, two-way HD wireless connectivity between display and tuner.

With UWB technology losing its steam, the wireless feud is narrowing between SiBeam's Wireless HD running at 60GHz and Amimon Inc.'s Wireless Home Digital Interface (WHDI) running at 5GHz, with Amimon's proprietary wireless technology grabbing the first big design win for commercial products.

By Monday (Nov. 10), when Sony Corp. rolls out in Japan the Bravia ZX-1, an ultrathin 40-inch LCD HDTV, this consumer electronics giant will depend on Amimon's proprietary wireless HD technology to wirelessly transmit and receive A/V signals between ZX-1's display unit and its tuner.

Sony separated the ZX-1's tuner from the display so that the LCD TV display can be as slim as 9.9mm.

Amimon's giant leap
This is a big win for Amimon and the company's proposed WHDI format. The win comes as several competing wireless contenders, including UWB, 60GHz radios and other twists on the 802.11 standards have been contending in the wireless connectivity battle with no clear winner on the horizon.

Speculation about Amimon's design win in Sony's ZX-1 started this summer. But it was only during a recent interview with EE Times in New York that Yoav Nissan-Cohen, chairman and CEO, Amimon, confirmed the design win.

"I am not going to deny it," he said.

A Sony spokesman in Japan reached by EE Times Japan said, "We will not officially disclose the wireless connectivity format."

But he described the wireless technology used in Bravia ZX-1 in detail. He cited that it runs on 5GHz, wirelessly transmitting uncompressed video for a distance from 20m to 30m. "It's capable of up to 1080-progressive HD video input, but video is converted into 1080i for wireless transmission," he added.

Technical specifications listed by Sony point to one answer: Amimon's wireless technology inside the ZX-1.

Amimon's transmitter and receiver chips inside Sony's ZX-1 are based on what its CEO calls "pre-standard WHDI." It is not compliant with the emerging WHDI spec.

Joint forces
The WHDI group, led by Amimon with active participation from Hitachi Ltd, Motorola Inc., Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd, and Sony, will give the summary of the WHDI 1.0 specification by the end of this year. "It's almost done," said Nissan-Cohen.

"The new specification will have a much more complex version of Consumer Electronic Control (CEC) technology used in HDMI, enabling WHDI to address not just a one-to-one connectivity, but also a "multipoint to multipoint" connectivity," he added.

Full documentation of the WHDI specification will be released in Q1 09.

SiBeam's version
In contrast, the Wireless HD Consortium, headed up by SiBeam, completed its Wireless HD specification in January 2008. The group is presently developing compliance testing procedures.

While no commercial HDTV sets having SiBeam's wireless HD chips have been released in the market yet, Panasonic and Toshiba at the CEATEC consumer electronics show in Japan said they are well on their way to include a wireless HD reference board carrying SiBeam's chips in their new digital TV sets.

But there are no assurances that Sony's Bravia ZX-1 using Amimon's pre-standard WHDI chips will be a huge commercial hit. The model, priced roughly at $5,000, will be released this Christmas season both in Japan and Europe, but not in the U.S.

The real wireless connectivity battle will heat up when both camps come out with volume products using solutions compliant to the respective consortium's specification.

Nissan-Cohen believes the fight is far from over. "To succeed in the consumer electronics market, one needs a solution that will work 99.99 percent of the time," he said. "This is very challenging. It's easy to say that it works. But it's hard to guarantee it works all the time," he added.

He noted that the rule works to Amimon's advantage, especially when the company rolls out the second generation chipset.

Enhanced products
The company's new devices will be upgraded to back full 1080-progressive video resolutions over 40MHz bandwidth, compared to 1080i over 20MHz bandwidth supported in the earlier generation chipset.

The new version, now being developed along with the WHDI specification, will improve the quality of the products significantly," said Nissan-Cohen. "Our wireless link won't break and it shows no white noise," he added.

"But the most notable feature is its ability to detect radar for dynamic frequency selection channels. If it detects radar, it backs off. Thus, the feature effectively doubles the available bandwidth our chips can use," he noted. "The new chipset can work in five channels in parallel, supporting wireless connectivity with five TV sets in one room, for example," he cited.

Amimon's new RF chip will be fabricated by using IBM Microelectronics' SiGe technology, while the new baseband chip will be developed by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. The past chipset used a separate microprocessor by STMicroelectronics to manage AV controls, but the new baseband chip will integrated MIPS' core to do the job.

Amimon's new chipset will be taped out this month. Its sampling starts in Q1 09, with its volume production slated for Q3 09, according to Amimon.

- Junko Yoshida
EE Times

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