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Software-based mobile TV to kick start PC TV?

Posted: 08 Dec 2008     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:software-based TV  radio demodulator  mobile TV  X86-based PC 

Armed with a reconfigurable multi-standard tuner IC, U.K.-based start-up Mirics Semiconductor, claims that it still remains the only company offering a software-based TV and radio demodulator.

Software-based demodulation wasn't the company's original plan, though. "We wish we could take credit for it, but we stumbled into the idea, while developing our own demodulator," said Simon Atkinson, Mirics' CEO Atkinson, during a recent interview with EE Times.

Mirics thus far has done a beta release of software demodulator solutions that support a number of digital radio and TV standards. They include AM, FM, DAB, Korea's T-DMB, Europe's DVB-T and Japan's ISDB-T. Still in development are PAL/NTSC, China Multimedia Mobile Broadcasting (CMMB), DTMB and ATSC.

However, this hybrid approach—a tuner in silicon and demodulator in software—goes against the grain. Most mobile TV chip companies have already followed the industry's mandate asking for a single-chip mobile TV tuner/demodulation solution.

The jury is still out whether Mimics' hybrid approach is a solution coming to the market too late or it proves to be a ground-breaking solution that could kick start still a lukewarm mobile TV market.

Eyes on X86
Mirics' initial target for its software/hardware-based mobile TV solutions is a X86-based PC platform.

Atkinson revealed that Mirics is also working hybrid solutions for cell phones, Mobile Internet Devices and other portable consumer devices.

While he is not saying when it will be ready, he hinted that the project will target ARM and leverage an unnamed GPU's accelerator.

By leveraging the existing CPU and memory resource, Mirics hopes it can eliminate the silicon demodulator, reducing mobile TV's footprint and cost. Perhaps more important, Mirics faces no development cost necessary for a complex RF SoC.

Atkinson promises that the hybrid approach will bring down the cost of DTV reception on a PC from conventional BOM of Rs.750.55 ($15) to less than Rs.250.18 ($5).

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