Dolby Laboratories, TI Collaborate on World's First 1394 Hardware to Connect Personal Computers to Home Theater Systems

3/14/2003 - Dolby Laboratories and Texas Instruments Incorporated (TI) (NYSE:TXN) announced they have jointly sponsored the design and development of a device that allows consumers to easily connect PCs with 1394 connectors to their home theater systems.

The FirewireTM-S/PDIF converter allows Dolby® Digital and PCM audio to be transferred from a network of IEEE 1394 devices (which may include laptops and desktop PCs) to the S/PDIF connection commonly found on today´s home audio equipment. This allows music and gaming enthusiasts to play back popular stereo and multichannel 5.1 computer music files, such as MP3, AAC, and WMA, through their home theater systems from their PCs. A prototype implementation of this design was shown at Texas Instruments´ booth at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January.

The converter, created by Island Digital Media Group, consists of an IEEE 1394 connector at one end and a coaxial S/PDIF connector at the other. It requires no additional wires if power is available from the 1394 cable, though a DC connector is available on the device for an external power supply, if needed. The device runs on a Texas Instruments iceLynx-micro (TSB43CB43A) chip.

IEEE 1394, also known as Firewire and iLinkTM, was designed to be a universal connection between electronic devices, including camcorders, personal computers, digital televisions, A/V receivers, DVD players, printers, and so on. Different types of digital signals can be carried on 1394 cables, including video, audio, MIDI, device control commands, and computer data. Though A/V equipment with 1394 is beginning to appear on the market, the vast majority of gear in people´s homes still relies on the S/PDIF connector as the link to digital audio. PCs, on the other hand, are far more likely to have a 1394 connector than a S/PDIF connector, making it difficult to send digital audio (such as a DVD soundtrack from the PC) to the primary listening equipment in the home. The Firewire-S/PDIF converter allows consumers to easily enjoy stellar digital audio entertainment from their PCs.

"Entertainment PCs have, for years, had the ability to output graphics and video to televisions; now they can finally enjoy high-quality stereo and 5.1-channel surround sound audio playback from their companion home theater systems," said Bob Brummer, director of technology strategy at Dolby Laboratories. "Because Dolby is prevalent in both consumer electronics and PC entertainment, Dolby Digital is an obvious choice for compelling audio entertainment that can bridge the gap between these environments. As home networks grow in popularity, PCs will play a more prominent role as home entertainment platforms. Simplifying and enabling the connection of PCs to traditional CE devices gives the consumer new ways of enjoying music and gaming entertainment."

"TI's iceLynx-micro was designed and tailored for the audio entertainment market," said Belal Ahmad, consumer electronics product manager for TI's Connectivity Solutions group. "The Firewire-S/PDIF converter taps into the millions of 1394 PCs and S/PDIF-enabled home theater systems and addresses the growing demand to easily connect PCs to home theater systems so consumers can enjoy private music collections."

"We are delighted to work with industry leaders such as Dolby and Texas Instruments to develop this critical link," said Bob Moses, president of Island Digital Media Group. "We look forward to working with OEMs to bring it to the marketplace."

Parties interested in bringing this design to market should contact Island Digital Media Group at 206-463-6667, or via email at

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