Texas Instruments Enhances Aureus Audio Digital Signal Processors

Texas Instruments Incorporated (TI) (NYSE: TXN) continues to drive audio innovation in new and emerging markets with today’s announcement of enhancements to its Aureus(TM) generation of audio digital signal processors, offering a higher speed memory interface for the DA710 and DA708 devices, as well as higher CPU performance.

As home theater systems transition to blue laser technology, TI’s Aureus processors are the first to support Dolby(R) Digital Compatible Output technology, which enables next-generation optical disc (HD DVD and Blu-ray) players to deliver a 640kbps Dolby Digital encoded surround sound signal and compatible playback through any existing Dolby Digital equipped audio/video receiver (AVR) with a digital audio input (S/PDIF or optical).

TI’s Aureus generation of processors targets a wide range of home theater and automotive products which require multi-channel decoding and high-speed encoding, including: AVRs, HD televisions, home media servers, automotive jukeboxes, MP3 player docking stations and emerging HD DVD and Blu-ray Disc equipment.

“TI is the undisputed leader in the manufacturing of high-end DSPs for the A/V receiver market,” said Will Strauss, president of Forward Concepts. “TI’s leadership in this market is reflected in its Aureus DSP performance, headroom and differentiating features. TI has done a great job of seeing and meeting the needs in a market, such as this timely response to meet the specific requirements of developers needing to support new formats quickly and effectively.”

Moving to High Definition
The Aureus generation of DSPs, including the upgraded DA710 and DA708, is optimal for emerging applications, such as audio mixing and re-encoding in HD DVD or Blu-ray Disc players. TI supports this new market with production-ready multi-channel audio encoders, such as Dolby Digital Compatible Output technology, offering a simple, cost-effective way for consumer electronics manufacturers to guarantee playback of a Dolby Digital surround sound signal through tens of millions of Dolby Digital equipped legacy audio-video receivers on the market.

Using a DA7xx DSP, the mixing and re-encoding functions can be implemented in a single device. The mixing function is necessary for next generation optical disc players supporting dual audio streams. Mixing a secondary audio stream with a primary audio stream, such as a movie soundtrack enables new applications, including downloading a stream of secondary director’s commentary or commercial content over a broadband Internet connection. A DA7xx DSP is capable of mixing primary and secondary audio streams, even if they have different sample rates, as well as a third audio stream for controls or “button sounds.” Because it can handle several audio streams, the DA7xx DSP can accommodate audio enhancements, such as virtualization or surround sound technology for headphones.

“By keeping its focus on next-generation equipment, TI is able to react quickly to emerging markets, such as HD DVD and Blu-ray Disc players,” said David Maples, Performance Audio manager, TI. “Providing the necessary performance in a single chip enables OEMs to lower system cost, while delivering a better listening experience to consumers.”

In addition to a single-chip solution for mixing and re-encoding, TI offers a complete audio processing solution for next-generation optical disc players and future support for Dolby TrueHD, Dolby Digital Plus and DTS-HD.

Efficient Data Access
Many audio algorithms and advanced processing features are memory-intensive and therefore require access to external memory. For example, effects such as reverb or virtualization use long delay buffers, which exceed the capacity of internal memory resources. The new enhanced devices increase SDRAM access bandwidth up to 133 MHz with processor speeds of 300 MHz and 275 MHz for the DA710 and 266 MHz for the DA708. Faster external memory access decreases processing latency of delay buffers, improving overall codec performance and audio quality.

Increased memory interface bandwidth also improves performance for algorithm and application updates. When the software for an existing product is upgraded, such as to support a new algorithm or new functionality, the new code and data cannot be stored in the DSP’s on-chip ROM. In most cases, it is stored in external memory. Increasing memory bandwidth drastically reduces the impact that this external code and data have on algorithm performance.

Availability, Packaging and Pricing
The new DA710 devices with 133 MHz memory interface are available now in an industry standard GDH package. The 300 MHz DA710 costs $21.63 each, while the 275 MHz DA710 costs $16.05 each, both in quantities of 10,000 or more. The 266 MHz DA708 with a 133 MHz memory interface is available in an RFP package and costs $13.52 each in quantities of 10,000 or more.

The DA710 and DA708 also are available for automotive applications that are Q100 qualified and rated for operation in extended temperatures. The DA710 for automotive applications provides 275 MHz, while the DA708 offers 250 MHz. Both devices have the enhanced 133 MHz SDRAM interface.

Dolby Digital Compatible Output is certified and available now. In addition to supporting emerging HD standards, Aureus devices offer a comprehensive array of development tools and codecs, including industry-standard decoders and post-processors from Dolby, DTS, SRS Labs, THX and Microsoft. In addition, TI offers the TI Effects Library, TI Perfect Playback compressed audio enhancer and the framework and I/O software required to build a complete audio system.

Texas Instruments
Texas Instruments Incorporated provides innovative DSP and analog technologies to meet our customers’ real world signal processing requirements. In addition to Semiconductor, the company’s businesses include Educational & Productivity Solutions. TI is headquartered in Dallas, Texas, and has manufacturing, design or sales operations in more than 25 countries. Texas Instruments is traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol TXN.

Aureus is a trademark of Texas Instruments.