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NEC debuts all-in-one set-top chip

The new processor can act as a digital video broadcast decoder and power next-generation entertainment devices that record to either a DVD or a hard disk.

    Japanese electronics company NEC has unveiled a new all-in-one chip that can act as a digital video broadcast decoder and power next-generation entertainment devices that record to either a DVD or a hard disk.

    "As the price reduction in DVD recorders continues, demand for highly integrated...devices is growing rapidly," said Shigeo Niitsu, general manager at NEC.

    The new all-in-one uPD61171 chip routes the data streams that flow from digital sources and performs various digital decoding, compression and decompression tasks. Previously, such jobs had to be split among various processors, according to NEC.

    The processor analyzes compressed data for storing, reading and editing, and offers multistandard data processing, including DVD video and digital video broadcasting.

    The chip performs high-speed data conversion between hard disk and DVD drives and enables consumers to use several record and replay functions including time shift, record and playback of different channels, according to NEC.

    Up to four drives can be supported through its dual-ATA feature, a connection mode more usually seen in computers than in consumer electronics. This allows consumers to multitask, such as time-shifting playback with a hard drive while programming on a DVD drive.

    The chip incorporates a dual-CPU (central processing unit) architecture, bearing two 225-MIPS CPUs. One is assigned to audio decompression, while the other provides processing power for user applications, including high-quality graphical user interface and networking products.

    The processor will be commercially available in the third quarter of 2003 at $30 in quantities of more than 100,000 pieces.

    CNETAsia's John Lui reported from Singapore.