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SigmaTel hopes to kick computer sound up a notch with Intel-HD compliant audio codecs

Austin, Texas — SigmaTel, Inc. introduced three audio codecs — the STAC9200 2-channel codec for notebook computers, and the STAC9221 and STAC9220 8-channel high fidelity codecs for PC and convergent media applications.

All three devices implement Intel's High Definition Audio (Intel HD Audio) specification, which enables a new class of audio performance for the PC, according to SigmaTel.

Targeted primarily for notebook and corporate desktop PCs, the STAC9200 sets the standard for high performance by providing true 24-bit audio and a 100dB signal-to-noise ratio (SNR). The STAC9200 incorporates internal jack sense capabilities and SigmaTel's universal jack technology to help eliminate connection mistakes. This is accomplished by the codec determining what device has been plugged into the audio connector and adjusting the internal configuration to match. Integrated headphone amplifiers and microphone pre-amp circuits' result in lower implementation costs for the PC manufacturer, the company said. Also, it was designed to support Dolby Sound Room specifications.

“High definition audio is designed to provide dramatic improvements to PC audio quality. With its new STAC9200 SigmaTel adds an important building block to enjoy HD audio on mobile computers,” says Sunil Kumar, director of chipset and software marketing for Intel. “Chip-level support from SigmaTel will help enable the wider consumer adoption of the HD audio specification.”

Additionally, SigmaTel's STAC9220 and STAC9221 8-channel HD audio codecs will enable theater quality PC systems, SigmaTel said. The STAC9221 promotes surround sound “theater quality” 7.1 audio for the high-end PC, media center applications and convergence devices such as digital media adapters (DMA) and media center extenders.

The Intel HD Audio specification was released in 2004 to enable higher levels of audio performance than can not be supported with Intel's previous Audio Codec 97 (AC'97) standard. The STAC9220 and STAC9221 are HD audio codecs that fulfill the promises of HD audio, according to SigmaTel.

Intel's AC'97 specification was intended for high-quality, 20-bit audio architecture used in many desktop PCs. It is capable of delivering up to 96 kHz/20-bit playback in stereo and 48 kHz/20-bit in multichannel playback modes, whereas Intel HD Audio is capable of providing up to 192 kHz/32-bit playback in multichannel mode.

Worldwide unit shipments for notebook/desktop AC'97 codecs, which will be similar for the new Intel standard, will grow at an annual compound rate of 23.8% between 2002 and 2008, said Robert Castellano, president of The Information Network (New Tripoli, Pa.). Unit shipments will climb from 220.3 million in 2004 to 640 million in 2008, he said.

The STAC9221 is designed for media-centric systems such as media center PCs, game enthusiast PCs, and new classes of devices aimed to distribute music and video around the home. The STAC9221 sets the standard for high performance by providing 8-channels of true 24-bit audio with a 105dB SNR.

The STAC9221 incorporates an ADAT Lightpipe interface allowing connectivity to professional audio equipment. The STAC9220 provides 95dB SNR performance setting the standard for the high volume, mainstream desktop PC and high-end notebook PCs.

Both products also feature SigmaTel's internal jack sense capabilities, S/PDIF input and output, and integrated headphone amplifiers and microphone boost circuits.

The STAC9221 and STAC9220 are intended to support Dolby Laboratories PC entertainment experience program. The STAC9221 audio performance is targeted at the Dolby Master Studio specifications, while the STAC9220 is targeted at the Dolby Home Theater specification. The high SNR of the new codecs will allow PC makers to meet Dolby's requirements of 95dB (CCIR-2K weighted) at the connector for Dolby Master Studio and 85dB (CCIR-2K weighted) at the connector for Dolby Home Theater.

“The audio performance of the STAC9221 enables PC-like systems that seamlessly integrate into the home theater and home listening environment,” aid Phil Pompa, SigmaTel's vice president of Integrated Components Group. “For the first time, the consumer does not have to sacrifice audio fidelity to gain the benefits of the Media Center PC.”

“New 8-channel codecs will help to propel HD audio into every audio corner of the home.” Intel's Kumar added.

All of SigmaTel's new codecs are supported with advanced software capabilities including drivers for the Windows Operating System and advanced signal processing plug-ins. A wide range of software plug-ins are available from SigmaTel and third party partners providing features such as bass response enhancement, spatial enhancement, and low latency filtering.

All three devices are available in the 48-pin LQFP. The STAC9200 is also available in a 32-pad QFN package. Pricing for the STAC9200, STAC9220 and STAC9221 is 95 cents, $1.35, and $1.45 in 10,000s, respectively.

For more information on SigmaTel, please call 512-381-3700 or please visit: www.sigmatel.com

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