Startup builds low-power audio-video chip

A Silicon Valley startup this week said it has developed a low-power processor for handheld gadgets that is capable of coding and decoding both MP3 audio and MPEG-4 video files.

Luxxon on Monday unveiled a prototype of its LUX2 multimedia processor, pitching it to the wireless industry at the CTIA (Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Assocation) Wireless 2001 conference in Las Vegas. The chip uses "adaptive firmware," which allows it to be programmed according to the purpose for which it will be used, said Roger Brooks, group leader for Luxxon's mediator systems department.

Key to development was building the chip to consume a small amount of power, so it could be effectively used in mobile devices, Brooks said. "It's hard to get video compression on a low-power chip."

Like other chip startups, Luxxon won't manufacture the processor itself, it will contract the manufacturing to a foundry supplier, such as Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing. Production is slated to begin at the end of the year, though developers will have access to samples in the second quarter, said Steve Eldridge, Luxxon's public relations manager.

In principle, as new streaming media standards are developed, the chip's programming could be modified to accommodate them. Wireless handsets and personal digital assistants equipped with the LUX2 may provide wireless users the equivalent of a mobile television or radio, using content streamed in from the Internet, according to Luxxon.

What remains to be seen is whether gadget makers will choose to use it.

Luxxon, in Mountain View, California, can be reached at +1-650-938-1919 or at http://www.luxxon.com.

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