CES 2007: Highly integrated DTV chips expected to debut

Pre CES 2007 coverage - Las Vegas (NV) - iSuppli expects DTV chip vendors to announce a variety of highly integrated chipsets at CES 2007 in an effort to gain a foothold in the ever- increasing DTV market.

In the past few years, the Digital Television (DTV) market has expanded at a breakneck pace, growing to more than 100 million units in 2007, up from 70 million units in 2006, iSuppli forecasts. Not surprisingly, this growth has attracted a large number of chip companies that are offering up differing chipsets in order to enable a number of different DTV applications.

At the 2007 Consumer Electronics Show (CES), DTV promises to be one of the staples of the show with current and future applications on display for the world to see. However, CES is also a stage for semiconductor vendors to showcase their innovations as a precursor to consumer electronics released at a later date.

Integrate this

The fastest-growing DTV segment is the integrated flat panel variety - televisions that include a digital receiver built into the TV. The most important aspects of this market are video quality for front-of-screen performance and system Bill of Materials (BOM) costs.

The latter can be achieved by moving to more advanced process technology where additional functionality can be integrated into the same piece of silicon. Moving from 90 nanometer and above process technologies to 65 nanometer will allow chip designers the ability to integrate more functionality onto a single piece of silicon thus reducing the overall system costs by reducing the semiconductor content in these consumer electronics.

Broadcom has recently released a chip that does exactly this, integrating fully High Definition 1080p support along with motion adaptive de-lacing, dual video decoders, dual HDMI receivers, six 10-bit ADCs for PC and HD inputs, dual channel LVDS transmitters and much more. As said before, expect to see more companies announce similar integrated chips at CES.

Fragmented market

There is no clear market leader in the DTV chip market with the largest market share only at 15%. In 2005, that position was occupied by NXP Semiconductors. With all of the major players vying for dominance in a variety of different DTV markets and with at least five companies that survive in a given market, chip vendors are trying everything they can in order to achieve the best price/performance ratio while enabling as much functionality as possible.

Moving to a lower process technology allows companies the ability to increase the volume of chips rapidly softening the drain of price declines that are sweeping across the DTV market.

Government mandates

Another factor driving an increased presence of DTV offerings at CES is the government mandates beginning to take effect this year. After March, all televisions sold in the U.S. must have a digital tuner built-in. A certain number of Integrated DTVs (iDTVs) at higher sizes had been required to include a digital tuner but after March every television at every size will be required to have a digital tuner inside.

Shyam Nagrani is the principal analyst for display electronics at iSuppli. You can contact him at snagrani@isuppli.com