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Monday, June 10, 2002
Cirrus unveils new DVD recording technology

Cirrus Logic announced that it is releasing new DVD recording technology that lets PC users transfer videotapes onto DVDs without taxing their computer resources.

The company said its new design reference will enable the manufacture of sub-US$200 devices that will allow users to "preserve, edit and store aging analog home movies and videotape collections onto DVD media."

"It allows you to take your old videotape collection that you've had for years and, using your PC as the editing mechanism, create DVDs, so that you have them for good," Cirrus spokesperson Jack Taylor told NewsFactor.

'Shortcut' for Manufacturers

The new technology allows the output of MPEG video to either a computer display or a video monitor. Users will be able to play back their custom DVDs on TV sets or record them to videotape using a VCR -- capabilities that software-based encoders do not have, according to the company.

Devices using Cirrus' chipsets would include peripherals that connect to the PC via a USB (universal serial bus) port. Current software technologies can tax a system's resources, but Cirrus claims its technology avoids that problem.

"Our technology would be the brains that connect this thing to your PC, so it would barely use much of your PC," Taylor said. "This is sort of a shortcut for manufacturers."

The company said that unlike software-based encoders, the new technology can record up to full D1 resolution images in real-time, using only a fraction of a PC's resources. D1 is a resolution standard, and "full D1" in the United States means 720 x 480 pixels.

DVD Interest Booming

Digital recording is a growing market that is attracting some of high-tech's biggest players, including Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard, Apple and Phillips Electronics. PC maker Dell started shipping DVD recording systems last year.

"Digital recording is becoming a mainstream part of video entertainment," Brian Heuckroth, Cirrus vice president of marketing, said in a statement. "While new PC sales have declined, consumer interest in entertainment applications for their current PCs has steadily increased.

"Meanwhile, DVD-recordable drives have begun to ramp in earnest, camcorder sales are booming, and DVD recording software is readily usable even by novice consumers. All these factors combine to make the desktop DVD recording market a very profitable category this year," Heuckroth said.

Market Set To Boom

Gartner recently reported that manufacturers shipped more than 600,000 DVD recording drives last year, and the research firm predicted that number will double in 2002.

Gartner also forecast that the number of DVD recording drives shipped will soar to 3.9 million in 2003 and 14.3 million in 2004. The company said it expects DVD makers will ship 27.6 million units in 2005 and 55.7 million in 2006.

Although DVDs are becoming increasingly popular for both audio and video uses, CDs still lead in audio. CD makers shipped 45.6 million CD rewritable drives last year and will ship in the neighborhood of 53.8 million by the end of 2002.

'Freestyle' Coming This Christmas

Microsoft will be selling "Freestyle" PC systems this holiday season -- PCs equipped with a special version of the Windows XP operating system that enables users to use their PCs to record TV programs. Those PCs will come with a remote control.

For its part, Apple said in April that it had shipped nearly 500,000 computers with DVD recording drives and more than 2 million DVD recording disks.

'Extreme Entertainment'

Based in Austin, Texas, with operations in Japan, Taiwan, China and Europe, Cirrus specializes in digital entertainment electronics and touts its involvement in "extreme entertainment."

The company is exploiting the popularity of DVDs and is also involved in the manufacture of audio/video receivers, game boxes, personal video recorders, set-top boxes, MP3/CD players and wireless residential gateways.

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