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Wednesday, April 18, 2001
Sigma Designs Introduces MPEG-4 Decoder Silicon Solutions


Sigma Designs announced today a family of advanced MPEG decoder chips that support MPEG-4 standards. The new EM8470 series, based on the company's award-winning REALmagic(TM) Video Streaming Technology, provides highly integrated solutions for high-quality decoding of MPEG-1, MPEG-2 and MPEG-4.

MPEG-4 is the next-generation digital video standard, enabling content developers to create sophisticated programs containing audio, video, text, graphics and interactivity. The object-oriented environment of MPEG-4 provides for complex scene manipulation at low bit rates, making it ideal for streaming content over today's 300-1500bps broadband connections.

The EM8470 series is a cost-effective solution for streaming video clients, advanced digital set-top boxes, and next-generation interactive DVD players, enabling manufacturers to easily incorporate streaming video, DVD playback, video-on-demand and video over IP into their products. The convergence of these applications into a single solution for the consumer is key to offering enhanced content and achieving market acceptance.

``We see MPEG-4 rapidly becoming a `must-have' feature,'' said David Shen, DMS's (an Acer subsidiary) Director of IA Marketing, ``and we are pleased that Sigma Designs is offering a hardware MPEG-4 solution for our set-top boxes.''

``Sigma Designs' silicon solutions have long been recognized for their high video quality. The EM8470 series is the result of our focus on the streaming video market,'' stated Keith Jack, Sigma Designs' Director of Product Marketing. ``Consumers want to be able to access content regardless of the video compression technique used. Working closely with our partners, we were able to provide a solution that enables them to develop next-generation clients that meet these needs.'' Supported formats include DVD-Video, SVCD, VCD, CD-DA and CD-ROM.

Streaming formats supported include ISMA (Internet Streaming Media Alliance) and Microsoft® Windows Media(TM) Technologies (WMT). Originally founded by Apple (AAPL), IBM (IBM), Cisco (CSCO), Kasenna, Inc., Philips (PHG) and Sun Microsystems (SUNW), the ISMA now has over 50 members defining open standards for streaming MPEG-4 video and audio over IP networks. Microsoft WMT support includes the ASF multiple content streaming media protocol and Windows Media Audio (WMA). Future products are planned that will support Windows Media Video (WMV).

Video decoding capabilities include MPEG-1, MPEG-2 MP@ML, and MPEG-4 advanced simple profile. The MPEG-4 advanced simple profile supports DVD resolution (720 x 480 or 720 x 576) and B pictures for improved video quality. Sophisticated scan conversion of standard video to progressive HDTV resolutions is also supported. Progressive video, one of the modes of digital television, recreates the picture quality of the cinema on home televisions. The EM8470 can achieve HDTV resolution from standard DVDs; yielding up to six times the resolution and clarity of conventional DVD players on the market today.

Audio capabilities also include Dolby Digital(TM) AC-3, MPEG-1 Layers 1 and 2 (including multichannel), and DVD-Audio linear PCM with sample rates of 32 to 192 kHz. Additional features include a flexible on-screen-display (OSD) capability, composite and s-video TV outputs, interlaced or progressive analog component video outputs (YPbPr or RGB), a S/PDIF digital audio output and stereo audio analog outputs.

Sigma and Envivio.com Inc, announced a strategic alliance to jointly develop industry-leading interactive video solutions based on the MPEG-4 standard. The first demonstration of MPEG-4 interactivity authored by Envivio software, being decoded by Sigma silicon will be on display at NAB 2001 located in the Sands convention Center in Sigma Designs booth M9629 and in Envivio booth E2950.

The high level of integration of the EM8470 series provides a cost-effective solution to the challenge of designing the next-generation of streaming video, DVD and digital set-top box products.


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