Bringing HD to the masses

Techwell’s new single-chip solution makes HD 1080p playback affordable
Monday, December 1, 2008

SAN JOSE, Calif.--Techwell, a semiconductor manufacturer dedicated to the security industry, and with chips in “70 percent” of DVRs sold today, announced Dec. 2 a single-chip solution (the TW2880) that can efficiently bridge 16 channels of analog video decoders to multi-channel H.264 video codecs while having the capability of displaying up to 20 windows of high-resolution, scalable live and playback video on a single large screen HD 1080p monitor.

What’s that mean? “Usually, [DVR makers] are saying if you want that application, you’ll have to pay a lot for it,” said Tom Krause, vice president of business development at Techwell, a $50 million company that employs 150 worldwide. “But because we can do it on one standard product, it will be a lot cheaper.”

Why should integrators care? “When they look at the next DVR,” Krause said, “they should say, ‘I know this chip exists, why don’t you have it? I’ll only pay you a small premium for it, too.’ You don’t need to pay an astronomical premium for 1080p playback.”

End users, he postulated, are becoming used to HD display. “What we’ve done with a team focused on the end market,” said Krause, “is realized that things need to be improved from the perspective of the user. He can store and network all kinds of video, but if you can’t see it well, it doesn’t matter.”

The TW2880 manages the stream of video for recording, storing and playback and is designed to bridge the gap between new digital HD systems and old analog systems. “What you’re going to see,” predicted Krause, “is a constant backward compatibility to analog infrastructure, which will be around for a very long time. You’ll have to support for IP-based video, across a lot of different resolutions, and display analog-definition video.” With the new chip, you can view analog and HD video on one display side-by-side.