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C-Cube could make DVDs cheap

C-Cube Microsystems is working on chips that could drive down prices for DVDs, while ATI Technologies has new DVD chips of its own.

C-Cube Microsystems (CUBE) has developed a highly integrated chip technology that could drive down prices for DVD players. ATI Technologies, a major video chip company, is also delivering chips for DVD playback.

C-Cube has integrated a number of critical DVD functions into a couple of chips, achieving the industry's highest level of DVD chip integration. These functions have been on many separate chips to date, leading to relatively costly DVD players, currently priced above $1,500 in some cases. DVD prices, as a result of the new chips, could sink below $500.

C-Cube's ZiVA chips allow consumer electronics manufacturers and PC developers to deliver a true home theater experience, the company said. Functions included in the chips include support for MPEG audio, Dolby Digital technology, and MPEG-2 video.

Consumer electronic companies such as Samsung and Aiwa have already adopted C-Cube's ZiVA chips for the development of DVD products that deliver home-theater audio and video playback.

In addition, Toshiba will also support C-Cube. The ZiVA chips, coupled with Toshiba's DVD ROMs, comprise a playback solution for DVD-ROM based PCs, according to Ken Jones, director of the DVD business unit at Toshiba's disk products division in a written statement.

Toshiba will also cooperate with C-Cube in driving the DVD players into the reach of the mass consumer market at lower price levels, the company said.

The ZiVA-DS and ZiVA-D6 are in sampling now; the company plans to be in production later this quarter.

Meanwhile, ATI will ship a video circuit board with its 3D RAGE II+ DVD video chip. The board is targeted for DVD video playback. The 3D RAGE II+ DVD also offers improved 3D and 2D acceleration, the company said.

It is also offering software that works in conjunction with MMX Pentium-class processors and enables DVD video playback on MMX systems, eliminating the need for special hardware to playback DVD video.

No pricing or availability was announced for the board. The 3D RAGE II+ DVD chip itself is shipping now and available in volumes of 10,000 for a price of $30.