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HDTV audio platform cuts design costs

Posted: 18 Sep 2008     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:audio platform  design costs  video delivery 

TV audio platform

At the DisplaySearch HDTV conference, Analog Devices Inc. (ADI) rolled out a TV audio platform said to lower HDTV manufacturer design costs by 20 per cent and demo what the company says is the world's smallest low-power HDMI transmitter, aimed at video delivery to televisions from portable multimedia devices.

According to ADI, the SoundMAX for TV audio portfolio includes all necessary analogue and digital signal processing, multi-channel audio decoding, post-processing and algorithm-supported audio enhancements required to build a complete high-definition audio signal chain.

The collection includes ADI's television audio processors, Class-D amplifiers, HDMI receivers, design environments, such as the SigmaStudio graphical programming tool for ADI audio processors, and audio algorithms, the company said. Both ADI-developed and third-party audio algorithms are included.

Doug Bartow, strategic marketing manager of ADI's advanced television segment, said ADI is the only vendor that in the world that can provide all of the components in a TV audio system.

"A number of people are using multiple vendors," Bartow said. "Can you imagine trying to get four different vendors to work together? You really need to have system knowledge of all of these pieces in order to avoid a lot of the pops and clicks that are plaguing TVs today."

Batow said SoundMAX for TV, based on ADI's heritage of Sharc and Blackfin processors, saves TV OEMs money by enabling them to purchase all components from one vendor, reducing time and increasing customers' leverage when they are buying parts in volume.

ADI's ADAV4622, ADAV4601 and ADAV4322 SoundMAX audio processors incorporate an embedded processing engine to manage the audio performance of space-constrained speakers in today's thin, flat-panel, LCD and plasma TV designs. This "digital audio enhancement engine" does all the processing necessary to deliver the big sound required to match high-definition video quality, according to the company.

The feature is coupled with high-performance, multi-channel, 24bit ADCs and DACs that accept analogue line inputs from HD components, such as set-top boxes and DVD players, and drive either analogue or PWM (pulse width modulated) digital audio to power amplifiers for speakers or auxiliary outputs, the company said. ADI said the audio processors allow designers to reduce "pop click" audio errors during system start-up, change audio sources seamlessly and deliver the high-quality audio required to match today's HD video display. The processors are designed to work with ADI's newest HDMI receivers and Class-D power stages.

Citing a study by the Consumer Electronics Association, Bartow said 85 per cent of HDTVs are never connected to high-quality external speakers such as home theatre systems. "The TV's internal audio is what people will be listening to all the time," Bartow said. "The demands for high quality audio are just starting to manifest."

With some TV OEMs now advertising the audio features, audio is becoming a "significant part of the consumer decision process," Bartow said.

ADI is also demonstrating the ADV7521NK, what the company calls the industry's smallest, low-power HDMI ver 1.3 transmitter. With its small form factor (3.5mm—3.5mm—0.65mm), the device is aimed enabling small consumer devices such as digital still cameras, camcorders, portable media players and cell phones, to interface with HDTVs.

The ADV7521NK, announced earlier this month, is the latest shot fired in an emerging battle among chip makers to extend HDMI to the mobile world. In July, HDMI chip leader Silicon Image Inc. announced a dual-mode, HDMI/MHL (mobile high-definition link) billed as a breakthrough for bringing HDMI to more mobile devices. Bartow said the ADV7521NK is about 30 per cent smaller than the Silicon Image PHY.

ADI said the transmitter offers full support for HDTV video standards up to 1080p/30f, 1080i/60f, 720p/60f and computer graphics standards up to XGA at 75Hz.The ADV7521NK also incorporates the connectivity standards including HDMI v1.3 (supporting x.v.Colour), the Consumer Electronics Association's CEA-861-D, and DVI ver 1.0 (digital video interface) ADI said. According to Bartow, the ADV7521NK's power consumption is lower than any competitive transmitter. Standy-by power is about one tenth that of the nearest competitor, he said.

"That's really important because the circuitry has to be on even if the camera is not connected," Bartow added.

ADI plans to show off this week a small digital camera with the ADV7521NK device.

- Dylan McGrath
EE Times

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