NEC Electronics Announces iDTV SoC Supporting H.264/AVC with Full HD processing

Monday, August 25th, 2008 
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Highly integrated, EMMA3TL enables a reduction in development cost and time for iDTV’s supporting global broadcast formats

KAWASAKI (Japan), DUESSELDORF (Germany), SANTA CLARA (USA) — NEC Electronics (Tokyo: 6723) today announced that it began sample shipments of the EMMA™3TL, a new SoC product for full high definition (HD) iDTV supporting the H.264/AVC next-generation video compression standard. EMMA3TL is an image-processing SoC integrating all the functionality needed for digital television on a single chip, including graphics and audio/video decoding. Its features include the following:

  1. An image-processing circuit which is an enhancement of that in EMMA2TH/H, enabling it to display high-resolution video as well as PC content.
  2. It can reduce the PCB area by reducing the number of components required to implement a full-HD system from nine until now, to just one.
  3. High-definition MPEG2 and MPEG4 AVC (H.264) decoder allowing it to process broadcast signals which use any major worldwide standard because it supports the DVB system used primarily in Europe, the ARIB system used in Japan, and the ATSC system used in North America.

The new device will enable designers to develop iDTV for worldwide markets with lower cost.

Next month, NEC Electronics will begin providing design information for a reference board for the new product. The company will also begin sample shipments next month of EMMA2TL SoC for digital televisions supporting MPEG full HD. Because EMMA3TL and EMMA2TL have compatible pin layouts and software, users will be able to select the product suited to the broadcast format, reducing development costs and software-development times by using a common PCB for all developments.

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NEC Electronics has identified semiconductors for digital audiovisual products as a key business field, and is working actively to expand this business. Since launching the EMMA series – an A/V decoder and image-processing SoC for set-top boxes with digital broadcast receivers – in 1998, the company has continued to develop new EMMA products in three fields: set top boxes, digital televisions, and DVD recorders, achieving a strong reputation in the market. As a result, the company had net EMMA sales of ¥40 billion (US$360 million) in fiscal 2007, and expects them to grow to ¥50 billion (US$450 million) in fiscal 2008.

The market for full-HD digital televisions, which have a 1,920 (H) x 1,080 (V) pixel resolution is currently very strong, and NEC Electronics launched EMMA2TH/H for full-HD iDTV in the third quarter of 2008. Taking a cue from the adoption of the H.264/AVC broadcast standard (mainly in Europe), the company also released the EMMA3SV with H.264/AVC compatibility in the third quarter of 2008. The rapid drop in prices of digital televisions, however, has created demand from television manufacturers (the users of these products) to integrate these product features into a single chip in order to reduce system costs.

The new product was developed to meet these needs. It improves on the performance of each of the circuits of EMMA2TH/H and integrates previously external I/O circuits including a video A/D (analogue to digital) decoder, audio A/D decoder, analogue audio multiplex decoder, and an HDMITM receiver, and integrates the H.264/AVC codec developed through the commercialization of the EMMA3SV, all on a single chip.

The features of the new product are as follows.

  1. Built in high-functionality, high-performance image-processing circuit

    EMMA3TL extends the features of EMMA2TH/H’s image-processing circuit. The image-processing circuit’s colour representation was upgraded from the conventional YUV 4:2:2 format to YUV 4:4:4 format, doubling the accuracy of its colour space, and enabling crisp image quality without smudging or blurring for conventional video as well as PC content.

    The performance of the de-interlacer and noise reduction circuit was also improved. For analogue video input, the technology NEC Electronics developed in the existing µPD64017 3D Y/C separation chip was enhanced, and the new product now supports an even higher quality analogue video decoder supporting PAL, SECAM and NTSC.

  2. Able to reduce number of components and PCB area

    The H.264 decoder has a built-in analogue A/V switch (for switching analogue input signals when multiple devices are connected), high-speed video A/D decoder, audio A/D decoder, analogue audio multiplex decoder, HDMI receiver, audio D/A converter, USB host controller, and Ethernet controller. Combining these nine components into a single one can not only greatly reduce the number of components on the PCB, but the PCB area as well.

  3. Supports European, Japanese, and North American high-definition broadcast standards

    The new product supports the DVB system used primarily in Europe, the ARIB system used in Japan, and the ATSC system used in North America. This enables it to receive high-definition broadcasts worldwide. It also has built-in VC-1 extended functionality for playing back video files saved on personal computers and other external devices, as well as JPEG extended functionality for displaying image files. The new product additionally supports picture-in-picture and picture-by-text, which is used to display Teletext this allows users to implement a variety of displays in accordance with the application.

  4. Enables efficient product development according to destination market and model line-up

    EMMA3TL and EMMA2TL have compatible pin layouts and software. Design Engineers need only select the best EMMA product depending on whether H.264/AVC or MPEG2 broadcast format is to be supported. This enables them to reduce development costs and software-development cycles by using common PCBs.

  5. Multi-core chip

    The new product uses a high-performance dual-core MIPS® CPU capable of 1,000 DMIPS (Dhrystone MIPS), making it possible to implement networks and other applications with heavy processing loads.

NEC Electronics has positioned the new product to enable quick development of full-HD digital television with H.264/AVC compatibility at low cost, and plans to market it actively. It aims to reach net sales of ¥100 billion (US$909 million) for EMMA products by fiscal 2011, and plans to continue to develop and market new products in order to reach this target.

Availability

Mass production of EMMA™3TL will begin in the spring of 2009; the company plans to reach a production volume of one million units per month by the fourth quarter of fiscal 2009.

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