LSI Logic to launch a new DVD recorder chip set

PARIS — LSI Logic Corp., the dominant company in the global DVD recorder IC market, moved Monday (Jan. 3) to solidify its position with the introduction of a new DVD recorder chip set.

LSI Logic claims the new chip set will allow system OEMs to reduce a DVD recorder's bill of materials by $20.

Called the DiMeNsion-3 DVD recorder, the new chip set inlcudes a DVD recorder system processor, a new optical servo/DSP with an integrated analog front end and a new NTSC/PAL video decoder. The chip set is priced at $25 when sold in volume quantities.

The DVD recorder market appears to be poised for a boom. LSI Logic hopes to capture the lion's share of silicon content in existing platforms. In-Stat/MDR forecasts global sales of 18 million DVD recorders in 2005 and 29 million in 2006.

Although the next-generation format battle for high- definition DVDs is destined to grab headlines at the Consumer Electronics show this week (Jan. 6), LSI Logic's strategy is to cater to current-generation DVDs. “Our goal is to catch the mass market product design cycle in DVD recorders,” said Jim Fox, director of marketing at LSI Logic (Milpitas, Calif.).

LSI Logic's emphasis is on trimming the overall system cost of a recorder. DiMeNsion-3 “eliminates the number of chips, and unifies memory within a DVD recorder, while letting system OEMs assemble their own DVD drives” rather than sourcing them from drive suppliers, Fox said. The end result is “a significant reduction in the overall system cost with no sacrifice on feature sets” for a new DVD recorder, he added.

DiMeNsion-3 offers unified memory architecture, allowing OEMs to use a single DRAM device and only one flash device inside an entire DVD recorder. In contrast, competitors' silicon require three separate DRAMs for MPEG encode, MPEG decode and a servo DSP as well as two separate flash devices — one for a servo DSP and another for DVD decoder.

LSI Logic claims to be the first vendor to provide a single-chip servo controller integrated with an analog front-end solution, called L3200, specifically optimized for consumer DVD recorders. L3200 integrates a ZSP DSP core.

The L3200, designed to mesh with LSI Logic's own DVD recorder system processor, called DMN-8603, eliminates the need for separate boards for DVD drive and DVD encoder/decoder, said Fox. The L3200 allows DVD system OEMs to “save their drive cost by 10 to 20 percent through self assembly,” he added.

DiMeNsion-3 also includes a family of analog video decoders to address various price/performance requirements. The L2150 video decoder targets entry-level products, while the L2146 decoder is optimized for high-quality video recordings from RGB input such as the European SCART.

The chip set comes with the DMN-8603, LSI Logic's third-generation DVD recorder system processor. Features include flexibility on formats such as MPEG-4/DivX encoding and decoding, standard- to high-definition up conversion and JPEG displays at full HD resolution.

It's too soon to tell whether LSI Logic has been too conservative in its forecast for the HD DVD/Blu-ray market. Michelle Abraham, senior analyst at In-Stat/MDR, doesn't think so. HD DVD/Blu-ray “will be a niche market for the next few years due to price and needing an installed base of HDTV sets,” Abraham said.

The availability of titles for next-generation formats is also an issue, she added. “Although a number of studios have backed one of the standards, I have not heard any say how many titles will be available,” she said. “Will consumers be willing to spend $500 on a player if content is limited?”

In-Stat/MDR estimates that in 2004 the DVD recorder market was about one-tenth the size of the DVD player market. “As DVD recorders grow and players decline, the recorder market will be over half the size of the player market in 2008,” Abraham said.

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