Broadcom announces decoder chip that plays both Blu-ray and HD DVD

Broadcom Corporation today announced the industry’s first high definition (HD) audio/video decoder chip that is fully compliant with the emerging Blu-ray and HD DVD optical disc formats. Compliance with Blu-ray and HD DVD formats permits the recording and playback of high definition video on blue laser-based optical disc media and drives. Broadcom’s latest high definition decoder chip enables a new generation of consumer electronics devices that can decode compressed HD video stored on Blu-ray or HD DVD formatted discs.

“The worldwide adoption rate of large-screen HDTV sets by consumers has increased significantly over the last year,” said Michelle Abraham, Principal Analyst at In-Stat in the press release. “There is now an enormous opportunity for consumer electronics manufacturers and Hollywood studios to supply consumers with high-definition media players and movies. As a result, we anticipate strong movie title and media player introductions in 2006.”

Announced today is the Broadcom BCM7411D HD A/V decoder chip. The new chip supports H.264 (also known at MPEG-4 Part 10/Advanced Video Coding (AVC)) and VC-1 (SMPTE 421M), the SMPTE standard based on Microsoft Windows Media Video 9. Both compression standards are mandatory for Blu-ray and HD DVD optical disc formats. The BCM7411D also supports high definition MPEG-2 decoding and provides full backwards compatibility for current DVD video titles as well as new HD DVD titles that may be authored in an MPEG-2 format. A single-chip high definition decoder, supporting all three compression standards, enables manufacturers to build a new generation of media players that support both high definition optical discs as well as existing DVD video titles.

“Our previous generation HD A/V decoder chips have been tremendously successful in the cable, satellite and IPTV set-top box markets because of our relentless commitment to meet required compliance and performance metrics,” said Peter Besen, Vice President of Consumer Electronics at Broadcom in the press release. “Our ability to deliver field-proven HD decoder technology that supports all of the industry’s compression standards places Broadcom in a position to become the leader of this exciting emerging market for consumer electronics.”

The BCM7411D is based on Broadcom’s previous generation HD A/V decoder chips, which are currently shipping in cable, satellite and IPTV set-top boxes, media centers and gateways. This fourth generation chip not only adds features that specifically address the HD optical disc player market, but also includes support for the VC-1 video compression standard.

“Broadcom has proven itself to be a leader in the broadband communications semiconductor market, and with this new high definition decoder chip, it will power a wide range of new high definition optical disc devices,” said Kevin Unangst, Director of Windows Digital Media at Microsoft Corporation in the press release. “By adding support for VC-1, Broadcom is ensuring its product will meet the highest standards for performance excellence.”

Also announced today is Broadcom’s BCM97438 reference platform for the development of Blu-ray and HD DVD media players. The platform includes a reference board featuring the new BCM7411D HD A/V decoder chip and Broadcom’s BCM7038 dual-channel HD digital video system chip, as well as a software platform that offers OEMs a wide range of integration options. Customers can interface their own navigation software solutions with application program interfaces (APIs) that provide full access to the underlying graphics, security, storage and I/O functions. Broadcom is also working with third party software vendors to offer fully integrated navigation software solutions for OEMs who want to license a complete software stack. For example, Sonic Solutions has announced availability of its AuthorScript BD Navigator solution for playback of advanced interactive Blu-ray discs on the BCM97438 platform.

“Consumers are very excited about the ability to purchase and watch high definition movies on their large screen HDTVs,” said Gary Shapiro, President of the Consumer Electronics Association in the press release. “Broadcom has shown very strong technology leadership in developing the underlying silicon and software technology to make this consumer entertainment capability a reality.”

The BCM7411D is a high definition A/V decoder chip for Blu-Ray and HD DVD players. The chip supports the latest generations of video compression technologies including AVC High Profile at Level 4.1, VC-1 Advanced Profile at Level 3, and MPEG-2 Main Profile at High Level. The chip’s integrated audio codec supports Dolby Digital (AC-3), Dolby Digital Plus, DTS 5.1, DTS-HD, MLP Lossless, LPCM and MPEG audio formats. The chip also supports Thomson’s Film Grain Technology, a digital compression technology that reduces the amount of bandwidth needed to store and transmit high definition video files while preserving a film’s original creative look and feel.

The BCM7411D is now shipping in volume quantities with pricing available upon request. The BCM97438 reference design is also currently available to qualified OEMs.

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  1. that case that the HD-DVD people are making is so empty. Technology is always rediciously expensive in the beginning, then the price drops considerably. Everyone should just go for the highest capicity format, which is the Blu-ray. Plus the blue laser is way cool, dude.

    Personally, I think that the HD-DVD crew is just jealous that a Japanese researcher came up with the Groovy, man.

  2. Misleading.

    This implies by using this chip one can trivially make a player which will play Blu-ray Disk Association disks, HD-DVD disks and today’s DVDs.

    This chip is only *one small piece* of a player. A very necessary piece to be sure, but just one of many, many pieces. There is a lot that goes on before the decoder and a lot that goes on after the decoder. It’s almost like a tree that branches out from both sides of the decoder. The hardware still needs to support the three different formats. And there are subsets of capabilities (even in hardware) to each of these three. (All told I believe there are at least seven different physical formats involved, and at least two more if you count future roadmaps.)

    The HD-DVD group *could* ship three different types of players: single layer, double layer and triple layer. The single layer player might not play the double or triple. Similarly the double might not play the triple. AND each of these players might not play any DVDs as well as being extremely unlikely they will play anything supported by the Blu-ray Disk association.

    The same goes for the Blu-ray guys with regard to single and double layer players. They might not support DVDs or HD-DVD either.

    This could all be true and *still* use the exact same decoder chip!

    The only thing this chip does is make the decoder piece a done deal.

    The manufacturers still need to figure out how to make a player that can physically read both HD-DVD disks and BDA disks. This is not a trivial thing and to date I know of no one who has done it outside of the lab. It’s a long, long way between a funtional laboratory model and a production model selling to the average consumer.

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