1394 FireWire Device from Texas Instruments First to Incorporate Content Protected Streaming Audio Capability

9/25/2002 - A new 1394 FireWire device from Texas Instruments (TI) enables the highest quality of sound in consumer audio/visual (A/V) equipment and reduces the number of cables needed for high-quality component interconnect from six to one. In the second-generation device from TI’s ceLynx family, the TSB43CA43A (also known as iceLynx Micro) transfers high sample-rate digital audio data between A/V receivers and DVD-audio/Super Audio CD players.

DVD-Audio recordings are protected by the CPPM (Content Protection for Pre-Recorded Media) licensing. This license forbids greater than CD quality content in DVD-audio formats to be sent across a non-encrypted digital link. Instead, the high sample- rate content is converted from digital and sent across an analog link. Or, the content is down-mixed and/or down-sampled and sent across a digital link. Compromise is no longer necessary when using the TSB43CA43A because it supports digital transmission content protection (DTCP). Content can be sent digitally across the 1394 interface with no conversion to analog and no down-mixing or down-sampling required. CE manufacturers can now offer a differentiated product and deliver the end consumer the highest quality audio available with 192-kHz, 24-bit sampling. By comparison, copyright-protected content is currently down-sampled to as low as 44.1 kHz.

As an additional differentiated benefit to the consumer, the TSB43CA43A enables a single-cable connection between a SACD/DVD-audio player and A/V receiver, compared to the six cables currently required for high-quality audio connections. This single 1394 cable is plug and play for the simplest installation.

Currently, the most common digital audio interface is S/PDIF, which has no provisions for content protection. Adding the TSB43CA43A iceLynx Micro enables not only the highest digital quality connections, it also can handle control and video and support long distances (up to 100 meters) when a 1394b repeater hub is added.

"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," said Tom Ballew, Marketing Account Manager for Connectivity Consumer Electronics at Texas Instruments. "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."

The 1394 standard was designed from the ground up to support streaming real time audio and video formats. Years of work to define the standards and protocols for enhanced interoperability and ease of use are implemented. Instead of connecting a rat´s nest of cables between components, only one 1394 cable is needed as a daisy chain connection to other system components.

Second Generation Device in the ceLynx Family
For DTV and set-top box OEMs, TSB43CA43A provides a second-generation, highly integrated 1394 solution. Digital cable, satellite, and terrestrial systems use compressed MPEG2 as the data format. The TSB43CA43A is the ideal interface to move MPEG2 data between the set-top box and DTV within a networked entertainment cluster. Again, it reduces the number of cables required to one for display connection between the set-top box and DTV; recording connection between the DTV or set-top box and a recording device; and playback connection between the DTV or set-top box and an A/V Receiver box.

The TSB43CA43A enables functions of the DTCP Specification, whose purpose is to protect entertainment content from illegal copying during transmission and playback. DTCP (also known as 5C) is based on well-known cryptographic algorithms and techniques — including Authentication and Key Exchange (AKE) and public key encryption — and is now offered on several new consumer electronic products. The TSB43CA43A provides hardware acceleration of AKE, improving user response times and reducing software overhead. A pin-compatible version of the device, the TSB43CB43A, has the same features without the content protection.

Both the TSB43CA43A and TSB43CB43A contain an embedded 50-MHz ARM microprocessor. The ARM reduces burden on the system CPU by handling the 1394 transaction layer, DTCP authentication and key exchange, and service interrupts. Both devices also contain 256 Kbytes of internal program memory.

The iceLynx Micro devices support multiple audio formats: IEC61883-6, 60958 and 61937 (SPDIF), 2-channel and 6-channel PCM, and multi-bit linear audio (MLA—DVD audio). Audio interfaces supported include S/PDIF, I2S, and MLPCM.

Availability, Packaging, and Pricing
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.

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