TI Connects Legacy Entertainment Devices to New Digital Home Systems

9/4/2003 - Texas Instruments Incorporated (TI) (NYSE: TXN) announced it has sponsored the design and development of a device that allows consumers to easily connect their existing entertainment devices to a FireWire (IEEE 1394)-based network. The OnRAMP device lets consumers network their legacy audio and video devices such as PCs, A/V receivers and DVD players to newer, FireWire-enabled home electronics without having to upgrade their existing equipment.

The FireWire-to-legacy converter allows streaming audio to be transferred from a network of FireWire devices, such as laptops and desktop PCs, to the S/PDIF and analog audio connections commonly found on today's home audio equipment. This functionality allows music and gaming enthusiasts to play back popular stereo and multichannel 5.1 computer music files, such as MP3, through their FireWire home networking system. Future upgrades to the OnRAMP will enable legacy video streaming as well. A technology demonstration of OnRAMP, which uses TI's iceLynx-micro (TSB43CB43) and 1394b chip-set (TSB41BA3 & TSB17BA1), will be shown in TI's suite during the CEDIA show.

"TI's iceLynx-micro was designed and tailored for the audio entertainment market," said Cecelia Smith, consumer networking marketing manager for connectivity solutions at TI. "The FireWire-to-legacy converter taps into the millions of S/PDIF-enabled home theater systems and addresses the growing demand to easily connect existing legacy A/V equipment to home theater systems so consumers can enjoy the benefits of FireWire networking without having to upgrade their entire system."

The availability of IEEE 1394b enables much greater distances and higher performance for home networking and entertainment applications such as whole house video and audio. The desire for connecting and sharing A/V-intensive applications among multiple users in the home is increasing. The OnRAMP shows TI's ability to send A/V entertainment and Internet Protocol data via IEEE 1394b over standard Category 5 (CAT5) cabling, which is installed in most new home construction today. The plug-and-play, quality of service and other ease-of-use features inherent to FireWire provide consumers with a user-friendly home entertainment networking system. 1394b enabled products which move multimedia, internet protocol and data at high rates over great distances within the home are in demand today.

OnRAMP, jointly developed with Island Digital Media Group, consists of multiple industry standard connectors to provide the most flexibility in transmitting legacy audio and video throughout the home.

OnRAMP has the following conversion capabilities:

Additionally, OnRAMP supports infrared repeating from one room to the next and features an LCD display for status and mode selection.

Digital Home Technologies, one of TI´s key home networking partners, has near-term plans to launch MediaNetTM, an all-digital, multi-room home entertainment system, utilizing an enhanced version of this technology. "We are glad to see TI embrace the direction we´ve been heading, knowing that consumers are looking for a simple way to network their existing devices to state-of-the-art FireWire home networking systems without the expense of upgrading all their equipment, and OEM customers are looking to serve this exciting new market for home media networks," said Jim Battaglia, DHT.

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 and printers. 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. The FireWire-S/PDIF converter allows consumers to easily enjoy stellar digital audio entertainment from existing equipment that may not have a 1394 connector.

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