A digital interface for DVD-Audio and SACD moved a step closer with the announcement of an integrated IEEE-1394 (Firewire) device from Texas Instruments.
The TSB43CA43A device, known as the iceLynx Micro interface, is a second-generation solution that allows the transmission of high-resolution DVD-Audio and/or SACD audio data from transport to processor or receiver. While there are already a number of proprietary solutions from manufacturers such as Sharp, Meridian and Audionet, the TI interface enables hardware producers to use a standardised, bundled solution and most importantly, one that is able to convey CPPM material (content that has been stored using the Content Protection for Pre-Recorded Media scheme).
The CPPM criteria specify that the digital transmission of high-resolution data via S/P-DIF be limited to a resolution of 48kHz, which is little better than that of Compact Disc. This is one reason why most DVD-Audio and SACD playback requires the use of two or six analogue interconnects. The Texas Instruments solution promises the ability to transmit all high-resolution data across a digital link, and it also has the significant advantage of being a non-proprietary solution, so in theory at least, products from different manufacturers would be able to communicate with one another at up to 192kHz 24-bit.
The TI TSB43CA43A interface is also able to handle control instructions and video content, plus is compatible with long-distance links up to three hundred feet if IEEE-1394b repeater hubs are used.
Pioneer will be the first to implement TI’s Firewire solution, the Pioneer Elite DV-47Ai DVD-Audio and SACD player will be suitably equipped and allow data to be transmitted digitally to the partnering Pioneer Elite VSX-49TXi audio/video receiver, both of which will be available soon.
Craig McManis, vice president of marketing for the Home Entertainment Division at Pioneer Electronics (USA) Inc:
“By utilizing the IEEE-1394 technology from Texas Instruments, Pioneer is able to offer consumers a one-wire solution to digital connectivity.”
All that remains is for paranoid content providers to actually agree on the copy-protection specifics, a political rather than technical hurdle that unfortunately may prove difficult to overcome.
But it’s not just DVD-Audio and SACD that could benefit from this latest TI development, the TSB43CA43A can be used for digital cable, satellite, and terrestrial systems that use compressed MPEG2 as the data format, enabling transmission of signals from a set-top box to recording device, receiver or television. DTCP (also known as 5C) is supported, which provides copy protection for video devices, whereas the TSB43CB43A offers all the same features only without the content protection.
For user-interface purposes a hardware acceleration implementation of AKE is provided, which improves user response times and reduces software overhead. Both the TSB43CA43A and TSB43CB43A contain an embedded 50MHz ARM microprocessor that handles the IEEE-1394 transaction layer, DTCP authentication and key exchange together with service interrupts.
The iceLynx Micro devices support multiple audio formats: IEC-61883-6, IEC-60958 and IEC-61937 (S/P-DIF), two-channel and six-channel PCM, multi-bit linear audio (MLA-DVD audio), Audio Music Protocol standards for audio format and packetising alongside Async and Async streams. Audio interfaces supported include S/P-DIF, I2S, and MLPCM plus there is an integrated 3-port PHY. The PHY operates at 100Mb/s, 200Mb/s or 400Mb/s. It meets the requirements as stated in the IEEE-1394-1995 and IEEE-1394a-2000 standards.
Tom Ballew, Marketing Account Manager for Connectivity Consumer Electronics at Texas Instruments:
“1394 is an ideal A/V networking solution because the possibilities to simplify and enhance the consumer’s experience are tremendous. For instance, 1394 supports audio, video and control data on one cable. Also, this solution is much simpler for consumers to install, not to mention the eventual cost savings to the manufacturer from removing most of the connectors on the back of a typical A/V Receiver. Moreover, since 1394 can also pass control data, only one system remote is needed to control all the components in the system. There is no longer a need for one remote per device or IR blasters or complicated programmable remotes.”
TI will be demonstrating the new iceLynx Micro at its suite located in the Crowne Plaza Northstar Hotel during the CEDIA Expo in Minneapolis September 25th to 29th 2002.
The TSB43CA43A with DTCP in a 176-pin BGA package and the TSB43CB43A in a 176-pin quad flat-pack (QFP) package are sampling now, with volume production scheduled for mid-October. Planned pricing is $15 each in quantities of 1,000 for the TSB43CB43A.