NEC Electronics has began sample shipments of the EMMA 3TL, a new SoC product for full high definition (HD) iDTV supporting the H.264/AVC next-generation video compression standard. EMMA3TL is an image-processing SoC integrating all the functionality needed for digital television on a single chip, including graphics and audio/video decoding. Its features include the following:
(1) An image-processing circuit which is an enhancement of that in EMMA2TH/H which is already NEC ElectronicsÅfsecond generation iDTV SoC, enabling it to display high-resolution video as well as PC content.
(2) It can reduce the PCB area by reducing the number of components required to implement a full-HD system from nine until now, to just one.
(3) High-definition MPEG2 and MPEG4 AVC (H.264) decoder allowing it to process broadcast signals which use any major worldwide standard because it supports the DVB system used primarily in Europe, the ARIB system used in Japan, and the ATSC system used in North America.
The new device will enable designers to develop iDTV for worldwide markets with lower cost.
Next month, NEC Electronics will begin providing design information for a reference board for the new product. The company will also begin sample shipments next month of EMMA2TL SoC for digital televisions supporting MPEG full HD. Because EMMA3TL and EMMA2TL have compatible pin layouts and software, users will be able to select the product suited to the broadcast format, reducing development costs and software-development times by using a common PCB for all developments.
NEC Electronics has identified semiconductors for digital audiovisual products as a key business field, and is working actively to expand this business. Since launching the EMMA series an A/V decoder and image-processing SoC for set-top boxes with digital broadcast receivers in 1998, the company has continued to develop new EMMA products in three fields: set top boxes, digital televisions, and DVD recorders, achieving a strong reputation in the market. As a result, the company had net EMMA sales of ¥40 billion (US$360million) in fiscal 2007, and expects them to grow to ¥50 billion (US$450million) in fiscal 2008.
The market for full-HD digital televisions, which have a 1,920 (H) x 1,080 (V) pixel resolution is currently very strong, and NEC Electronics launched EMMA2TH/H for full-HD iDTV in the third quarter of 2008. Taking a cue from the adoption of the H.264/AVC broadcast standard (mainly in Europe), the company also released the EMMA3SV supports H.264/AVC in the third quarter of 2008. The rapid drop in prices of digital televisions, however, has created demand from television manufacturers (the users of these products) to integrate these product features into a single chip in order to reduce system costs.
The new product was developed to meet these needs. It improves on the performance of each of the circuits of EMMA2TH/H and integrates previously external I/O circuits including a video A/D (analogue to digital) converter, audio A/D converter, analogue audio stereo decoder, and an HDMI˛ receiver, and integrates the H.264/AVC codec developed through the commercialization of the EMMA3SV, all on a single chip.
The features of the new product are as follows.
(1) Built in high-functionality, high-performance image-processing circuit
EMMA3TL extends the features of EMMA2TH/H's image-processing circuit. The image-processing circuit's colour representation was upgraded from the conventional YUV 4:2:2 format  to YUV 4:4:4 format , doubling the accuracy of its colour space, and enabling crisp image quality without smudging or blurring for conventional video as well as PC content.
The performance of the de-interlacer and noise reduction circuit was also improved. For analogue video input, the technology NEC Electronics developed in the existing uPD64017 3D Y/C separation chip was enhanced, and the new product now supports an even higher quality analogue video decoder supporting PAL, SECAM and NTSC.
(2) Able to reduce number of components and PCB area
The H.264 decoder has a built-in analogue A/V switch (for switching analogue input signals when multiple devices are connected), high-speed video A/D converter, audio A/D converter, analogue audio stereo decoder, HDMI receiver, audio D/A converter, USB host controller, and Ethernet controller. Combining these nine components into a single one can not only greatly reduce the number of components on the PCB, but the PCB area as well.
(3) Supports European, Japanese, and North American digital broadcast standards
The new product supports the DVB system used primarily in Europe, the ARIB system used in Japan, and the ATSC system used in North America. This enables it to receive digital broadcasts worldwide. It also has built-in VC-1 decoder functionality for playing back video files saved on personal computers and other external devices, as well as JPEG extended functionality for displaying image files. The new product additionally supports picture-in-picture and picture-by-text, which is used to display Teletext this allows users to implement a variety of displays in accordance with the application.
(4) Enables efficient product development according to destination market and model line-up
EMMA3TL and EMMA2TL have compatible pin layouts and software. Design Engineers need only select the best EMMA product depending on whether H.264/AVC or MPEG2 broadcast format is to be supported. This enables them to reduce development costs and software-development cycles by using common PCBs.
(5) Multi-core architecture
The new product uses a high-performance dual-core MIPS CPU capable of 1,000 DMIPS (Dhrystone MIPS), making it possible to implement networks and other applications with heavy processing loads.
NEC Electronics has positioned the new product to enable quick development of full-HD digital television with H.264/AVC compatibility at low cost, and plans to market it actively. It aims to reach net sales of ¥100 billion (US$909 million) for EMMA products by fiscal 2011, and plans to continue to develop and market new products in order to reach this target.
 YUV 4:2:2 format. This is a system of sampling the two chroma (colour) components (U and V) horizontally at half the rate of the brightness component (Y).
 YUV 4:4:4 format. This system samples the two chroma (colour) components (U and V) at the same rate as the brightness component (Y).
Mass production of EMMA 3TL will begin in the spring of 2009; the company plans to reach a production volume of one million units per month by the first quarter of 2010.
More information about NEC Electronics’ line-up of EMMA solutions can be found at http://www.necel.com/.
About NEC Electronics
NEC Electronics Corporation (TSE: 6723) specializes in semiconductor products encompassing advanced technology solutions for the high-end computing and broadband networking markets; system solutions for the mobile handset, PC peripheral, automotive and digital consumer markets; and multi-market solutions for a wide range of customer applications.
Note: The above text is the public part of the press release obtained from the manufacturer (with minor modifications). EETimes Europe cannot be held responsible for the claims and statements made by the manufacturer. The text is intended as a supplement to the new product presentations in EETimes Europe magazine.