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Multimedia tech targets Linux-powered gadgets

Sep 22, 2006 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive

Embedded CPU/DSP core specialist ARC International is shipping a programmable multimedia subsystem consisting of a configurable 32-bit RISC core with an MPEG-4 decoder and various audio codecs, supported by a Linux stack. The ARC Player Subsystem targets portable audio players, electronic toys, and low-end mobile phones, according to the company.

ARC says its Subsystem can help consumer electronics manufacturers add multimedia capabilities to a range of devices that have traditionally been based on 8- and 16-bit microcontrollers and dedicated logic. The Subsystem is said to offer the industry's first pre-verified subsystem combining MPEG-4 and audio codecs with a configurable 32-bit microprocessor.

The Subsystem is based on ARC's configurable, 32-bit, RISC-based CPU/DSP ARC 600 core. Integrated components include an MPEG-4 video decoder, MP3 decoder, audio/visual synchronization, and a voice recorder. Optional audio decoders include WMA, AAC, and Dolby Digital Consumer (AC-3). It operates at “very low power” in 0.18-micron technologies, according to the company.

ARC Player Subsystem architecture
(Click to enlarge)

The Player Subsystem can be evaluated using ARC's ARCangel 4 (AA4) development platform. ARC says the platform integrates an FPGA-based Player Subsystem running Linux, and supports all of the standard codecs supported by the Player.

The basic Player IP is sythesizable, and can be integrated into custom SoC (system-on-chip) or ASIC (application specific IC) chip designs, the company adds.

ARC VP of sales Derek Meyer stated, “ARC Player is specifically designed to meet the requirements of the large installed base of devices that need a cost effective migration path to 32-bit platform functionality.”

S2 Data Corp. CEO Jason Blackwell stated, “Due to extreme price sensitivity, adding advanced multimedia features can be cost prohibitive, making it difficult for manufacturers to exploit new market opportunities. The ARC Player Subsystem provides a compelling, low cost migration option.”

ARC originally announced a multimedia subsystem based on SIMD and RISC instructions about a year ago.


The Player Subsystem is available now. Software and hardware development tools are also available from ARC.

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