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Decoder boasts CPU enhancement

Geneva — STMicroelectronics Inc. introduced the first MPEG-2 decoder chip in a new family for low-cost set-top boxes and DVD recording, which are said to boost computing power by over five times compared to earlier devices.

The new STi5301 is pin-compatible with ST's STi5100 decoder. The device provides a step change in performance to match the increasing demands of interactive TV applications.

Delivering 1.33 Giga operations per second (GOPS) of processing power through an ST230 VLIW CPU running at 333 MHz, ST has ensured that manufacturers' investment in new products is protected as the STi5301 can easily accommodate today's interactive software, and provides a platform that can support the even more demanding applications of the future, said Armando Caltabiano, VP and general manager of the Retail and Satellite Division of ST's Home Entertainment Group.

The integrated CPU of the decoder was designed specifically for video and audio streaming applications such as MPEG-2, MPEG-4 and MP3 in digital consumer applications.

“With an increase of over 500 percent in on-chip processing power we are providing consumer electronics manufacturers with the capability to support the demanding interactive TV applications of today and tomorrow,” Caltabiano said. “At the same time the ability to save hardware by implementing more system functions in software will reduce production costs in this very price-sensitive market.”

The new device embeds a USB2 host interface, which allows peripherals to be easily added to a basic STB in order to provide a low cost upgrade path for additional functionality, Caltabiano said. In particular, it would allow the STB in the field to become a digital video recorder (DVR), by the addition of a hard disk drive.

Full software development support is provided through evaluation boards and ST's application programming interface (STAPI) software. The STx5300 family provides support for the Linux operating system, in addition to supporting legacy software.

 
 
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The STi5301 decoder comes in a 27mm x 27mm- PBGA package, with a pin-out that allows a two-layer printed-circuit board design. Samples are available now; with volume production scheduled for Q3 2005. The decoder costs $11.00 each in production quantities. Click here for the STi5301 data sheet.

STMicroelectronics , 1-888-787-3550, www.ST.com.

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