By Lisa Johnston
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Texas Instruments late next year will start shipping a new chipset that the company believes will give a boost to the voice over IP phone and video on demand markets.
The DM642 Digital Media Processor is a 600MHz chip designed to facilitate the encoding and decoding of various data streams that will be fitted into TV set-top boxes, PC graphics cards, IP phones and further down the line digital television sets. TI plans to have sample versions of the DM642 out by the first quarter of 2003 with production taking place later that year. A price per chip was not available, but Eric Braddon, manager of TI's DSP video and imaging business, said the company is not interested in bringing out a low-end product.
The DM642's primary features include low power consumption, 1.5 watts, the ability to simultaneously process three media streams with no loss in quality and the ability to handle several types of multimedia data transmissions like Windows Media or Real. By utilizing new codecs the chip can send out information at half the usual bit rate with no loss in quality making it particularly useful for Internet-based videoconferencing applications, Braddon said.
The first product categories expected to make use of the new chip are IP phones/videoconferencing and digital video recorders and to a lesser extent video on demand.
"There are a lot of companies pursuing IP phones with not a lot of success," Braddon said, adding that the DM642's low bit rate should remove one of the hurdles blocking the success of this product category.
For video on demand the chipset would allow the viewer, for example, to watch a program, take an IP phone call and surf the web all through the same screen, Braddon said.
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