Freescale accelerates digital audio transition from portables to automotive

MUMBAI: Manufacturers of portable media players and automotive entertainment systems are striving to meet consumer demand for seamless connectivity between devices. Freescale Semiconductor in the US is rolling out software libraries for its SCF5250 processor that will help enable new portable and automotive compressed audio and video solutions.

The company states that since going into production a couple of years ago, Freescales SCF5250 audio processor has been quietly racking up design wins with many of the top digital audio player manufacturers. Freescale states that it is uniquely positioned to transfer its audio expertise into the automotive market.

The company states that it looks like the phenomenal growth of compressed audio entertainment is expanding well beyond the home and portable device markets. In fact, digital and 'soft' audio products are rapidly entering the automotive industry, as satellite radio and MP3 player in-vehicle connectivity are clearly demonstrating. People increasingly want to have the same entertainment choices in their cars as they have on their portable devices and at home. Single-platform technologies that support an easy interface between car and portable devices will be key to meeting both consumer and automotive requirements.

The SCF5250 is a second-generation audio processorthat provides more memory and improved power management over the previous SCF5249 device. Built on the ColdFire V2 core with enhanced multiply-accumulate (eMAC) module, the SCF5250 supports a variety of universal serial bus (USB) interfaces, including the latest USB 2.0 high-speed (HS) on-the-go (OTG) technology.

The SCF5250 supports the latest versions of Microsoft Windows® Media Audio (WMA) and Windows Media Digital Rights Management (DRM) 10, as well as JPEG and MPEG4 video formats for mobile displays.

Freescale is currently developing its next-generation audio processor, which is planned to include on-chip integration of USB 2.0 HS OTG technology with a real-time clock (RTC), as well as an on-chip flexible controller area network (FlexCAN) module for automotive applications.

The company has also developed a new set of chips aimed at allowing high-definition TV signals to be sent from a set-top box to a TV screen without the need of a connection cable or cord.

The company has also announced a partnership with Chinese consumer-electronics manufacturer Haier to develop a 37-inch liquid crystal display TV set using the technology. The system will be sold with a digital media server that will include a hard drive for storing digital video, a DVD player and a TV tuner. The wireless connection between the set and the server will let consumers place the box anywhere within a range of about 60 feet from the TV. The set will debut in China before the end of this year and will hit the US next year.

The product announcement is among the first in the area of ultra-wideband (UWB) technology, which uses relatively short but high-bandwidth radio signals to connect devices in ways that previously required the physical connection of a cord. The technology promises to enable not only wireless TV sets, but stereo speakers, computer accessories and music players, as well as other items.

Freescale says that its UWB technology can transfer data at rates of 110 megabits per second at distances of about 20 meters, or about 65 feet. UWB technology will eventually eliminate such things as USB cords connecting PCs to printers, music players, digital cameras and all manner of other devices, allowing for more flexibility and simplifying their use.

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