Frontier Silicon Launches First Combined Digital Broadcast and IP Radio SoC for Mass Market Audio Products

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Applications include Internet radio, network audio streaming, DAB digital radio and FM

At CES Las Vegas (Jan 8-11, 2007), Frontier Silicon will launch its Chorus 2i baseband receiver SoC (system on chip), bringing over ten thousand Internet radio stations and network audio streaming capability to sub-$99 WiFi radios. It is the first multi-mode IC (integrated circuit) to combine analog and digital broadcast reception with complete IP connectivity enabling manufacturers to easily design and produce radios capable of receiving Internet, DAB and FM radio stations, with the addition of network audio streaming through existing home WiFi and Internet connections. The chip, along with a complete software development kit, module, and reference platforms, is sampling to customers this month, with radios expected in the shops by summer.

"With audio content increasingly becoming available on-line, audio receivers must embrace WiFi connectivity to avoid obsolescence within a few years," said Steve Evans, Frontier Silicon's VP for digital audio. "While the majority of audio products today rely on broadcast technology, we are now in the transition decade where consumers will increasingly demand access to digital content from the Internet. This chip will accelerate the introduction of the new generation of home audio systems by bringing Internet radio and streaming into mass market radios and audio systems."

Millions of people are already regularly listening to their favourite radio programmes over the Internet through PCs, but as broadband and WiFi penetration grows in the home, it is expected that listeners will want to migrate to more traditional and easier-to-use entertainment products for their Internet radio services. Applications will include a wide range of audio products, from portable and alarm clock radios to CD micro systems, boomboxes and HiFi tuners. Also, as more consumers use PCs as central music file servers, streaming playback capability will become a sought after feature, enabling audio files to be played through the WiFi radio when connected to a WiFi front-end.

"We believe that it is essential for the manufacturing community to ensure that their products are scalable to meet the evolving demands in both broadcast and IP radio," added Evans. "It's already happening in TV and it's going to happen in radio on a global scale."

Measuring a compact 13mm x 13mm, the new advanced Chorus 2i SoC has a flexible DSP architecture which ensures that the chip has sufficient capacity to run all the streaming protocols and audio decoders necessary for a WiFi radio application, along with spare resources to provide DAB and FM functionality. Unique to Chorus 2i is the integration of peripheral features on-chip, such as the USB 2.0 OTG interface for music download/playback and software upgrade, support for TFT and LCD displays, ATA/ATAPI interface for hard-disk storage, NAND Flash, memory stick and SD interfaces.

Chorus 2i streams radio stations and music files in a variety of formats and protocols including MP3, Windows Media Audio (WMA), Real Audio, AU, WAV and AIFF. The chip integrates an intuitive user interface which enables setup, search and browse of over 10,000 Internet radio stations plus a wide selection of podcasts with only a few key presses. The radio stations and podcasts are accessed through the vTuner Internet portal, which manages all the stations to ensure the quality and reliability of the available content.

Unlike other broadcasting standards which vary from country to country, Internet radio products are not constrained by geographic location. According to an independent report (see note below) from Lehman Brothers, the worldwide broadband market will account for approximately 350 million connections by 2009, with 60 percent of connections made through a WiFi link. The report suggests a potential total available market of over 10 million WiFi radio units by 2009.

[Report title: Semiconductors & Equipment. Frontier Silicon Private Placement Report by Lehman Brothers. Issued: October 13, 2006. Authors: Navdeep Sheera and Olubunmi Asaolu.]

Editor's notes:

About Frontier Silicon

Frontier Silicon (http://www.frontier-silicon.com) is the leading supplier of digital and RF integrated circuits and modules for mobile TV and DAB digital radio products. Frontier is supplying solutions for leading products such as the Samsung B2300 and SGH-P900 T-DMB mobile phones and has over 70 percent market share for DAB receiver solutions. Frontier Silicon's products include solutions for DAB digital radio, T-DMB and DAB-IP and a multi-standard receiver solution for mobile TV reception combining DVB-H, T-DMB and DAB-IP.

Customers include Bang & Olufsen, Bush, Denon, Goodmans, Grundig, JVC, Onkyo, Philips, PURE Digital, Roberts Radio, Samsung, Sharp, Sony and TEAC. Frontier Silicon has operations in UK, Ireland, China, South Korea and Japan.

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Jonathan Colbourne
Frontier Silicon
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