Thursday, September 8, 2005

Microsoft and Sigma Designs Target Low-Cost IPTV Devices

At IBC in Amsterdam , Microsoft and Sigma Designs said their collaboration is paving the way for low-cost, high-definition-capable devices optimized for the Microsoft TV Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) Edition software platform based on Sigma's new SMP8634 media processor. The chip is capable of delivering multiple channels of high-definition (HD) video and on-screen graphics, powerful multimedia processing, powerful content security, and support for a full range of peripherals such as USB 2.0, IDE, Ethernet and HDMI. Support for the VC-1 and H.264 (MPEG-4) video codecs is also built in, further reducing costs for set-top box manufacturers.

"Platforms based on Sigma's SMP8634 and Microsoft IPTV Edition offer the dual benefit of achieving a dramatically new user experience and significantly lowering the cost of IPTV-ready receivers," said Ken Lowe, vice president of strategic marketing at Sigma Designs. "Ultimately, high-definition content will help come alive for consumers as a clearly differentiated service."

  • In August 2005, Sigma Designs has begun sampling its new SMP8634 media processor, designed for IPTV set-top boxes and high-definition DVD players. The device represents a milestone for media processors in that it not only decodes H.264 (AVC), VC-1 and MPEG-2, but also supports multi-stream decoding of any format, up to the equivalent of two simultaneous high-definition streams, along with full-screen graphics. In the years ahead, Sigma said it expects to see a digital media duopoly shared by two new video codecs: VC-1, a SMPTE specification based on Microsoft's Windows Media Video 9 (WMV9), and H.264, a shared specification from ITU and MPEG associations, also known as AVC (advanced video codec) or MPEG-4 part 10. Moving forward, Sigma said VC-1 and H.264 appear destined to equally share the role as next generation digital media standards.