Vendors join MP3 mania

Signalling a growing demand for hardware devices that play back music downloaded off the Net, Toshiba has announced it will begin selling DSPs (digital signal processors) designed for use in such players, later this year.

DSPs can be used to decode digital signals and improve the quality of digital audio by eliminating irregularities in incoming signals. One of two chips that Toshiba will ship includes the TC9446F-004, which will support the MP3 compression format.

The chips are an indicator that Toshiba expects growing demand for music playback devices. In December Toshiba will launch its own MP3 player, while Sony will likely announce a similar device next month.

Philips Electronics recently announced its plans to release a player early next year that is compliant with the Secure Digital Music Initiative (SDMI) proposal, and that will offer enough capacity for about one hour of digital quality music.

A flood of products complying to the SDMI proposal are anticipated for release by the Christmas shopping season this year.

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