Leading Set-Top-Box Chip Makers Embrace Windows Media 9 Series

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands, Sept. 12, 2002 — Today at IBC2002, Microsoft Corp. announced that the leading manufacturers of chips for set-top boxes and next-generation digital media appliances have announced support for Windows Media (TM) 9 Series. Manufacturers announcing support for Windows Media Audio and Video 9 Series today include Equator Technologies Inc., National Semiconductor Corp., Sigma Designs Inc., STMicroelectronics and Texas Instruments Inc. This announcement, on the heels of the Windows Media 9 Series launch last week, paves the way for manufacturers such as Pace Micro Technology PLC to create set-top boxes with tremendous digital media processing power at a low cost while at the same time offering consumers new high-quality content delivery services over satellite, DSL and cable modems.

“Windows Media 9 Series is a significant step forward in the evolution of digital television, especially for telcos and broadband network operators that deliver more content and services than ever,”
said Tim Fern, chief technology officer at Pace Micro Technology.
“Advanced silicon supporting Windows Media 9 Series has been important to our development of the world’s first Windows Media 9 Series capable set-top box, which will be on show at IBC2002. Not only has it helped us make product costs viable, it has reduced our time to market — crucial factors for our telco and operator customers.”

Also at IBC2002, several companies will demonstrate for the first time how Windows Media 9 Series can be decoded and encoded at the chip level. Equator will be the first company to demonstrate high-definition video decoding of Windows Media at 720p (1280×720) on a chip — video resolution that is two and a half times the resolution of a DVD today. Texas Instruments will be the first company to demonstrate encoding of Windows Media Video 9 directly on a chip. These breakthroughs in using Windows Media 9 Series video technology at the chip level will open up new consumer possibilities for next-generation set-top boxes delivering services directly over IP-based networks, new applications for encoding Windows Media Video and new consumer electronics devices. Windows Media Video 9 Series will offer significant advantages by allowing TV programming to be recorded in the same quality as MPEG-2 technology but tripling the storage capacity with its superior video compression.

“Offering Windows Media 9 Series support at the chip level was the next logical step in our vision to enable seamless access to digital media content any time, any place and on any device,” said Dave Fester, general manager of the Windows®
Digital Media Division at Microsoft.
“The breadth of support today shows that Windows Media 9 Series can flexibly offer the best quality audio and video at any bit rate and, by locking the video bit stream for silicon, create new opportunities for network operators, chip makers and consumer electronics device manufacturers.”

Leading manufacturers of chips for set-top boxes that support Windows Media Audio and Video 9 Series announced today at IBC2002 include the following:

  • Equator Technologies’ BSP series System-on-a-chip processors support playback of Windows Media 9 Audio and Video. The BSP-15, as demonstrated on Equator’s Tetra (TM) hardware platform at IBC2002, supports high-definition 720p playback. Equator provides chips to many leading set-top box manufacturers, including Pace Micro Technology, a world leader in digital television technology, for its IP400 and IP500 family of home gateways.

  • National Semiconductor’s Geode processors and Geode CS1301 media coprocessor support the playback and decoding of Windows Media Audio and Video. National Semiconductor currently provides chips to Pioneer for its recently announced DigitaLibrary Digital Network Entertainment device. National also provides chips to other Japanese manufacturers that will be announcing products later this year.

  • Sigma Designs’ new EM8500 DVD decoder chip will support playback of Windows Media Audio, and a future series of decoder chips will support Windows Media Video as well. Sigma provides chips to Fujitsu Siemens Computers, Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. and Kreatel Communications AB — all leading sellers of set-top boxes in their respective markets.

  • STMicroelectronics is the world’s leading supplier of MPEG-2-based chipsets to the set-top-box market. The ST200 family of media processors will support Windows Media Audio and Video 9 Series technologies and complement its OMEGA family of set-top-box and DVD decoder ICs. This will enable the combination of traditional digital TV and DVD platforms with a new range of audio and video applications enabled by Windows Media 9 Series.

  • Texas Instruments’ fully programmable 600MHz TMS320C64x DSP platform uses Windows Media Encoder 9 Series to help bring convergence one step closer, enabling IP-based set-top-box OEMs to design an all-in-one product for digital media compression, streaming video transmission, HDD storage and more. This means that consumers using devices with this new chip can now play back and encode Windows Media 9 Series. This chip will open up opportunities for real-time encoding of content into Windows Media Video 9.

About Windows Media

Windows Media is the leading digital media platform, used by consumers, content providers, solution providers, software developers and corporations throughout the world. The new Windows Media 9 Series will power the next wave of digital media, delivering the best playback experience, unmatched audio and video quality, and integrated optional digital rights management technology, and is the most comprehensive platform for developing digital media products and services. The Windows Media platform includes Windows Media Player; Windows Media Services, the powerful streaming server for distributing content; Windows Media Encoder for content creation; Windows Media Audio and Video for the best-quality audio and video; Windows Media DRM for protecting content; and the Windows Media Software Development Kit for software developers. Windows Media Player, available in 26 languages, is the fastest-growing and now leading media player. More information about Windows Media can be found at http://www.microsoft.com/windowsmedia/ .

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq
) is the worldwide leader in software, services and Internet technologies for personal and business computing. The company offers a wide range of products and services designed to empower people through great software — any time, any place and on any device.

Microsoft, Windows Media and Windows are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.

The names of actual companies and products mentioned herein may be the trademarks of their respective owners.

Note to editors: If you are interested in viewing additional information on Microsoft, please visit the Microsoft Web page at http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/ on Microsoft’s corporate information pages. Web links, telephone numbers and titles were correct at time of publication, but may since have changed. For additional assistance, journalists and analysts may contact Microsoft’s Rapid Response Team or other appropriate contacts listed at h http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/contactpr.asp .

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