Electronic Design

Receiver Chip Brings Broadcast TV To Laptops

Some high-end desktop PCs offer optional TV tuners, but they haven’t been practical for laptops until now. Laptops and other portable devices equipped with the FlexiTV chip set from Mirics Semiconductor can receive over-the-air TV broadcasts. And with the set’s very low bill of materials (BOM) cost, you can expect more TV receivers in laptops, portable media players, and even cell phones.

The set comprises Mirics’ proven MSi 001 polyband receiver and MSi 2500 USB interface. The receiver’s unique architecture can be reconfigured as direct conversion, single conversion, or double conversion with a variety of IF filtering configurations. It covers from 150 kHz to 1.9 GHz using very low power. And, this RF front end is flexible enough to handle any radio or TV standard.

The MSi 2500 includes the analog-to-digital converter (ADC), an optimized DSP, and a control host processor in addition to the USB interface. The USB port allows connection to a PC or laptop where all demodulation and related processing is performed with software algorithms on the host Intel or AMD processor (see the figure).

TV viewing tends to dominate other functions, so users probably won’t be running other applications at the same time, making all that processing power available for the demodulation functions. This approach also makes it possible to include TV in any PC or laptop for a very low BOM. With simple software upgrades, the devices equipped with the chip set will be able to receive any radio or TV signal over the air regardless of country of origin or standard protocol.

Mirics already has developed the decode software for AM and FM radio, the DAB U.K. digital radio standard, the Korean T-DMB digital TV standard, and the European DVB-T digital TV standard. Demodulation software for Japan’s ISDB-T digital TV protocol, China’s DTMB standard, and the ATSC digital/HD standard in the U.S. are in the works. Future availability will include satellite TV, HD radio via the U.S. IBOC standard, and Europe’s Radio Mondial digital shortwave standard.

Designers can use this versatile chip set to build a TV receiver in a MiniCard format with a BOM of less than $5. Other formats include a USB dongle or placement on the motherboard. The overall goal is an embedded receiver with the MSi 3101 single chip, which combines the MSi 001 receiver with the MSi 2500 interface. Sampling now, the chip set costs less than $3 in high volume. Full production is scheduled for later in 2009.

Mirics Semiconductor


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