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Receiver chip gains HD radio certification

Posted: 22 Aug 2008     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:HD Radio technology  HD radio receiver  FM performance 

SiPort Inc. said that its device has received ''HD Radio Ready'' certification from iBiquity Digital Corp. IBiquity is the developer and licensor of HD Radio technology.

SiPort's device, dubbed the SP1010, is a single-chip, HD radio receiver said to provide digital and analogue FM performance for the mobile, tabletop and automotive aftermarket segments.

SiPort will begin shipping the receiver chip in volume in September. LG-Innotek is currently sampling its HD Radio module based on SiPort's SP1010. The company will be in production by year's end.

HD Radio was developed by iBiquity Digital. The technology allows digital radio signals to ride the same airwaves as today's analogue AM and FM radio broadcasts, bringing additional content, crystal-clear sound, and location-based data services, the companies said.

That company is neither a content owner nor broadcaster; rather, its technology lets radio stations simulcast compressed digital audio and traditional analogue audio without shifting to new frequency bands.

IBiquity recently claimed that the Rs.4,285.85 ($100) price point for HD Radio receivers has been ''smashed.'' The new HD Radio receivers are made by Coby, iLuv, JVC, Pioneer, Radiosophy and Sony. The latest prices represent a 30 per cent reduction compared to a year ago.

This could also be a major event for start-up SiPort. "HD Radio certification is an important milestone for SiPort and validates our commitment to delivering the highest performance HD Radio solution," said Sid Agrawal, CEO of SiPort, in a statement. "The certification of the SiPort single-chip SP1010 HD Radio solution gives our customers a best-in-class solution for audio and data services on both mobile and traditional radio platforms."

Formed in 2004, SiPort is a fabless semiconductor company developing mixed signal RF and digital base band wireless receiver chips supporting multiple Digital Broadcast Standards. Investors in the start-up include Lightspeed Venture Partners, Morgenthaler, New Venture Partners and Intel Capital.

The start-up is reportedly betting the first application for its chip will be portable GSP devices, given HD Radio's ability to datacast real-time traffic information from local radio stations in far more detailed and comprehensive fashion than is currently available via the analogue FM band.

On the business front, there have been mixed results in the overall digital radio sector. Despite a six-year market presence, there remains confusion surrounding satellite and digital radio ''due to the introduction of multiple digital radio standards,'' according to iSuppli Corp.

Still, by 2014, global shipments of satellite radios will rise to 89 lakh (8.9 million) units, nearly double the 46 lakh (4.6 million) in 2007, iSuppli predicts. In 2008, shipments are expected to rise by 13.3 per cent to reach 52 lakh (5.2 million) units.

In March, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) ruled in favour of a merger between satellite radio operators Sirius and XM Satellite Radio Inc.

''This is good news for strategic planners in the automotive business, as well as top-tier and aftermarket suppliers that have spent the last 18 months 'on hold' pending this merger,'' said Richard Robinson, an analyst for iSuppli, in a report.

''Satellite radio providers Sirius and XM have retained end-to-end control of their value chain, from hardware to content. This has allowed them to develop an entire ecosystem with the freedom to push through proprietary broadcast and receiver standards,'' he said. ''In contrast, most other digital broadcast standards have required significant buy-in from third parties. The result has been patchy acceptance of most other digital radio formats. With the merger approved, Sirius and XM now are free to expand their business using their successful business model to a wider audience.''

iSuppli also is encouraged by BMW's decision to roll out HD radio as a standard feature in all its U.S. vehicles starting in September. The market realises ''that until car makers begin to offer digital radio technologies as standard features in vehicle head units, the additional cost of installing digital radio as an option will continue to be a deterrent to wider adoption,'' Robinson said.

- Mark LaPedus
EE Times

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