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ASIC improves sound quality of small speakers

Posted: 31 Jul 2006     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Tower  MaxxBass  Waves  VLSI 

Tower Semiconductor Ltd, a pure-play independent specialty foundry, has announced it will start producing MaxxBass ASICs at its fabs. A result of its collaboration with Waves Audio and VLSI Solution, Tower Semi said the MaxxBass ASIC was enhanced to meet JVC's stringent requirements for audio quality. The company said the improvement in sound quality of small speakers achieved through the product opens up a whole new realm of possible applications including LCD TVs, notebook computers, portable loudspeakers and car audio.

The business model among the collaborating companies allowed each to contribute to the success of the project. Waves Audio provided its patented psychoacoustic audio algorithm and system expertise; VLSI Solution provided its expertise in mixed signal semiconductor design; and Tower provided volume production manufacturing capabilities.

Waves Audio's product profile for MaxxBass touted the device as the solution when a bigger bass and richer sound are demanded from smaller speakers. Benefits for manufacturers included no additional royalty payments; easy to add to product designs; support for 2-channel analogue input and output; integration of all analogue converters and DSPs on a single mixed-signal device; and, low external component costs. The MaxxBass ASIC requires only a clock source such as a crystal oscillator and a few discrete capacitors and resistors. It comes in a 16-pin SOIC package. Together with its support components, MaxxBass ASIC requires less than 1inch2 of PCB space. For minimum system cost, the device can be used without a system microcontroller. It can also be used with an I2C host, for additional programmable software functionality.

"Waves strategy in the CE market is to deliver audio solutions that compensate for limitations in small loudspeakers. The acoustics has become the A/V bottleneck for a wide range of consumer products, and Waves has unique psycho-acoustic algorithms to compensate for these limitations," said Paul Bundschuh, VP for sales and marketing, Waves Semiconductor and OEM Licensing Division. "Waves executes our CE strategy by being both a fabless and designless semiconductor company and by working closely with our design and manufacturing partners to service our customers' needs."

"VLSI Solution has developed a strong relationship with Waves which utilises our semiconductor design expertise," said Tapani Ritoniemi, president of VLSI Solution Oy. "By leveraging the best capabilities of each firm, VLSI is pleased to assist Waves in becoming highly competitive semiconductor vendor in the consumer electronics industry."

"Apart from the immediate contribution to Tower's revenue from a growing new market segment, we believe that such collaborative projects open the door to many new opportunities", said Yossi Netzer, general manager of mixed-signal and RF product line at Tower Semiconductor. "Tower's involvement and investment in such collaborative projects is important to the continued growth of the company."




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