Samsung crams world's digital TV into a single chip

Samsung Electronics has developed a pair of chips that can receive and decode four mobile digital TV systems used around the world.

Samsung Electronics has developed a pair of chips that can receive and decode four mobile digital TV systems. The chips should make possible smaller portable media players and mobile phones that can pick up local broadcasts around the world.

The chips are compatible with the DVB-T/H system being used or deployed in many European countries, the DAB-IP system being used in London, Japan's ISDB-T "1-seg" system and South Korea's terrestrial DMB.

Samsung said they were the first quad-system chips to be made using 65-nanometre production technology. The nanometre measurement refers to the size of the smallest feature on the chip's surface. Chipmakers such as Samsung are continually refining their production technology to produce chips with smaller, finer features because that helps shrink the overall size and power consumption of the units - something that is especially important for chips used in portable electronics products.

One of the two chips is a multi-band RF tuner, which receives the analog broadcast signal, and the other is a channel decoder, which takes that analog signal and transforms it into a digital signal for processing. The tuner covers the VHF, UHF and L frequency bands used for mobile digital TV in most regions. Samsung also offers a single chip containing the two pieces of silicon.

Mobile digital TV is becoming increasingly popular among consumers in many countries. Almost all high-end mobile phones in markets such as Japan and South Korea now offer digital TV reception and the feature is being added to laptop computers and portable media devices. However, a number of different standards exist around the world making such multi-standard chips a potentially attractive option to hardware makers.

Samples of the chips were already being produced and offered to system makers and mass production was scheduled to begin in the fourth quarter, Samsung said.

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