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Format wars continue as bilingual interpreters appear

Broadcom Corporation recently announced a complete system-on-a-chip (SoC) solution that combines both Blu-ray and HD DVD optical disc formats into a single-chip design.

According the press release, the Broadcom BCM7440 offers OEMs a single 761-ball BGA chip design, which integrates a multiple-core MIPS architecture, a multi-stream HD video decoder, dedicated graphics engines, DSP-based audio processors, a security processor, DDR2 interfaces, integrated video and audio outputs and a complete array of system and network connectivity interfaces.

"Broadcom is simplifying the development of next-generation Blu-ray and HD DVD products with a proven, complete single-chip solution that offers OEMs both a time-to-market advantage and cost-effective design," said Peter Besen, Vice President, Consumer Electronics, Broadband Communications Group, of Broadcom.

"Consumers have expressed interest in adding high definition disc players to their home theater and personal movie entertainment systems, but are cautious about adopting the 'wrong' format," said Richard Doherty, Research Director of The Envisioneering Group. "We have found that four out of five American consumers have expressed knowledge of and/or interest in the availability of consumer products and PCs which could play both HD DVD and Blu-ray media. Broadcom's complete Blu-ray/HD DVD solution is best positioned to drive the wide adoption of the kinds of high-performance, dual-format products consumers want."

The BCM7440 incorporates the decoding, processing and memory functions for both Blu-ray and HD DVD media players, eliminating the need for manufacturers to build two different hardware platforms. The chip supports the wide variety of mandatory audio and video compression standards required for Blu-ray and HD DVD optical disc formats, including H.264/AVC, VC-1 , MPEG-2, Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby Tru-HD and DTS-HD. The BCM7440 also provides full backwards compatibility for current DVD video titles as well as DVD-R, DVD-VR and audio CDs.

The BCM7440 is now sampling in volume quantities to early access customers. No hybrid players using the new chip have been announced yet.

Last month, NEC announced a similar development of a dual-format chip. The next step in bridging the two formats could be a hybrid optical pick-up that would be capable of reading media from both formats.



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Cost reduction
By Nightskyre on 11/14/2006 12:14:44 PM , Rating: 2
While I agree that a large part of the cost of the systems is licensing, it is not unreasonable to look to a chip like this and the Ricoh laser to produce a mass market box to reduce cost.

We see Southwest airlines being able to offer cheaper fares than many other companies because all they use is 737's, and so their maintenance costs are much lower due to only having to have the supplies for one airplane. We also have seen companies like Dodge use the same frame to produce two drastically different vehicles (Neon and PT Cruiser) to save money, and provide options for consumers.

These two companies provide two distinct and different examples.

Even if this chip wasn't used to make a hybrid player, this chip could replace an exclusive HD-DVD chip or Blu-Ray chip because once the fab facilities are up and running, they are producing far more and selling far more, thereby reducing the cost to produce as the process was streamlined.

Electronics companies could use the same base model to produce a Blu-Ray player and an HD-DVD player that have different plastic shells and a different cheap daughter card that enables/disables one of the formats. (This is the car company example)

They also would have lower cost margins because they are only producing and maintaining one technological unit. (This is the Southwest example) The plastic shell costs pennies.

Would this open the boxes up to the mod community? Sure. But it's a step in the direction of cheaper units for consumers.




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