Toshiba to release low power MPEG-4 encoding/decoding chip

Toshiba Corporation today announced the availability of a single-chip, low-power MPEG-4 encoding and decoding (CODEC) solution. This new chip, designated TC35273XB, integrates an MPEG-4 CODEC with 12-megabits (Mb) of embedded DRAM to deliver a low-power, end-to-end solution with encoding, transmission and decoding functionality that fully supports the MPEG-4 industry standard. Today’s announcement adds to Toshiba’s existing line-up of MPEG-4 solutions, which include the recently announced low-power, single-chip MPEG-4 decoder as well as Toshiba’s software MPEG-4 decoder.

“As the demand for wireless media grows, many companies are beginning to develop MPEG-4 solutions,” said Andrew Burt, director, TAEC wireless market development. “Toshiba’s solution stands out because our leadership in embedded DRAM allows us to offer significantly lower power dissipation – a critical feature in the wireless communications arena. Our new MPEG-4 CODEC opens the doors for designers to create advanced wireless communication products such as mobile interactive multimedia devices, digital television or remote security and surveillance. Toshiba is enabling the industry to envision and create new and exciting ways to deliver two-way, rich media content anytime, anywhere.”

Low-Power Leadership
Toshiba’s expertise in embedded DRAM technology enabled a considerable reduction in power dissipation due to the lower capacitance on-chip connections, without any degradation in the chip’s performance. The company’s new single-chip MPEG-4 CODEC features 12Mb of embedded DRAM reducing power dissipation to 80-milliwatts (mW). This is a significant decrease when compared to similar solutions using off-chip memory. As a result, Toshiba’s solution has the potential to more than double the battery life in a mobile videophone compared to the same phone using off-chip memory.

Growing Demand
According to Scottsdale, Ariz.-based market research firm, Cahners In-Stat Group, approximately 30 million cumulative shipments of MPEG-4 chips are expected from 2001 through 2003, with a steep rise of 60 million shipments in 2004, with most of the devices going into the mobile handset market. “Video is the next popular craze in the mobile handset market. MPEG-4 technology is essential to the encoding and decoding of streaming media for next generation cellular,” stated Michelle Abraham, senior analyst, multimedia, Cahners In-Stat Group.

MPEG-4 technology will give operators and cellular service providers worldwide the opportunity to provide additional functionality to their cellular service. These services will include more than just web pages, and with the success of portable audio players, MPEG-4 technology can also be considered with its range of high quality audio options.

Technical Features
The TC35273XB performs 15 frames per second into a QCIF (176 x 144 pixels) video display, along with an audio CODEC that can support multiple audio CODECs including Adaptive Multi Rate (AMR) speech CODEC at a clock frequency of 70-megahertz (MHz). Three signal processing units, an MPEG-4 video CODEC, an audio CODEC/decoder, and a multiplex/demultiplex unit are integrated on the single-chip. The video core consists of a 16-bit RISC processor and dedicated hardware accelerators that allow programmability while delivering high performance and low-power dissipation. The firmware program for the RISC processor is downloaded into the embedded DRAM before beginning any operation. Additional applications, such as H.263, are performed by using the appropriate firmware. Features also include a general host interface in order to support various host processors, as well as a special-designed gating input/output (I/O) that allows power supply to be cut-off to the internal circuits while keeping the I/O activated.

Pricing and Availability
Sample pricing for the TC35273XB MPEG-4 encoder and decoder is $55. Samples will be released in second quarter of 2001, with mass production slated for third quarter of 2001. The chip is packaged in a 141-pin Chip Scale Package (CSP), 11 millimeter (mm) on a side.

MPEG-4 Background
MPEG-4 is an ISO/IEC standard developed by MPEG (Moving Pictures Experts Group), the group that also developed the standards known as MPEG-1 and MPEG-2. MPEG’s charter is to develop international standards for compression, decompression, processing and coded representation of moving pictures, audio and their combination. MPEG-4 builds upon the proven success of three main fields – digital television, interactive graphics applications (synthetic content), and interactive multimedia (web services and content) – and provides the standardization process to enable the seamless integration of production, distribution and content across these main fields.

The MPEG-4 visual standard has been developed to provide users with a new level of interaction with visual content. It provides the ability to view, access and manipulate objects rather than pixels, with great error robustness at a large range of bit rates. The MPEG-4 visual standard consists of a set of tools that enable applications by supporting several classes of functionality. The most important features covered by MPEG-4 standard can be clustered in three categories: compression efficiency; content-based interactivity; and universal access.

MPEG-4 Audience
The MPEG-4 standard provides a set of technologies to satisfy the needs of authors, service providers, and end-users alike. For authors, MPEG-4 enables the production of content that has far greater re-usability and flexibility than currently possible. For service providers, MPEG-4 offers transport information which can be interpreted and translated into the appropriate native signaling. For end-users, MPEG-4 brings higher levels of interaction with content within boundaries established by the author.


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