Toshiba has announced the availability of what it claims to be the first production silicon MPEG-4 decoder, which can be used in wireless communication products to receive and decode streaming media, such as video feeds.
Samples of the chip are expected to be made available in the first quarter of 2001, and mass production is expected to start in the second quarter, the company said in a statement. The MPEG-4 decoder, which is formally known as the TC35274XB MPEG-4 decoder, is expected to cost about £25 and will be used in devices that can connect to the Internet wirelessly, such as some mobile phones and PDAs and in products connected to wireless LANs, said Andrew Burt, a Toshiba spokesman.
"What the manufacturers of 3G (third-generation wireless equipment) have been promising is video functioning," said Adrienne Downey, a research analyst at Semico Research. "I definitely think this chip is the first in making it a reality."
This first use may be seen in new 3G phones that are due to appear in Japan in May next year, Downey said. The technology is only applicable with wide-stream data devices, she said, with the video streaming into mobile devices at a rate of 384kbps (bits per second). Technology in the UK currently accepts data at 9.6kbps.
OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) planning to use the new chip will be announced during the first six months of 2001, Toshiba's Burt said. The initial deployments will be in mobile phones and in PDAs, he added. More specifically, they may show up in handsets and mobile terminals based on IMT-2000 (International Mobile Telecommunications 2000) standards.
The Toshiba device integrates an MPEG-4 decoder with 4Mbits of embedded DRAM on a single chip. Putting the decoder and memory on a single piece of silicon reduced the power usage to 50 milliwatts. The decoder performs 15fps of MPEG-4 video decoding with QCIF (Quarter Common Intermediate Format, or 176-x-144 pixels) at 30MHz clock frequency.