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TI and Mistral Software Develop Virtual CD Changer Reference Design for Next-Generation A/V Products

TI's Aureus™ DSPs Make High-Speed Encoding Possible, Achieving More Than 4x CD Ripping Speed

Oct 16, 2006

DALLAS (Oct. 16, 2006) -- Texas Instruments Incorporated (TI) (NYSE: TXN) and Mistral Software Ltd. are introducing a virtual CD changer (VCDC) reference design built on TI’s Aureus™ audio digital signal processors (DSPs). This reference design could help replace the traditional mechanical CD changer in the future, which has a high rate of defects among car parts. VCDCs rip and store CDs, making them less expensive, easier to use and more reliable than traditional CD-changer audio systems. To the user, however, the look and feel is identical to that of a traditional CD changer. This reference design supports multiple audio formats, several media interfaces and premium surround sound, offering manufacturers the flexibility to build multiple products with different functionality from the same board. TI will be demonstrating their VCDC reference design at the Convergence® Conference and Exhibition in Detroit Oct. 16-18. (For more information please visit www.ti.com/performanceaudio8.)

Many automotive consumers are interested in using a USB memory key to listen to their own music in their car and would like to have in-vehicle music storage capabilities, allowing them to burn and store their music files in their vehicle's audio system. Additionally, many consumers are interested in premium surround sound and the ability to play non-standard audio formats such as MP3.

High Speed CD Ripping and Simultaneous Listening

The VCDC reference design was developed with high-speed encoding technology to rip CDs at a high rate and store it to a fixed or removable storage device. The solution can achieve a ripping/encoding rate of 4x real time or faster depending on the CD mechanism. A 4x encoding rate means that a 60 minute CD can be stored in 15 minutes. The end user experience is further enhanced with the simultaneous decoding feature, meaning the end user can listen to audio while CDs are being ripped.

Alternative Audio Formats and Media

The VCDC reference design can be configured to work with the most common compressed audio formats, including MP3, WMA, MPEG4-AAC and ATRAC. The VCDC solution can also be configured to include a number of fixed and removable media options, such as NAND flash, USB and SD. The fixed NAND flash is useful for storing ripped CDs in the car until they are overwritten, as well as for advanced features, such as time-shifting radio. Removable media options, such as USB and SD, allow the user to take their ripped CD content out of the car to be played back on a home stereo system, as well as give the user the ability to import compressed audio that has been stored on a home computer or digital music player.

Increased Reliability and Reduced Cost

By replacing the mechanical CD changer with solid-state components, the VCDC reference design eliminates moving parts and reduces the overall component count of an automotive head unit. This results in a more dependable, less expensive head unit versus traditional mechanical CD changers. To further reduce system cost, the Aureus DSP directly controls the peripherals, such as the CD loader, NAND flash, USB and SD, eliminating the need for a microcontroller.

Premium Surround Sound

The Aureus family of DSPs has a heritage in the home AV receiver market and is used by manufacturers, such as Harman Kardon, Onkyo and Yamaha. The VCDC reference design can offer all the surround sound decoding and post-processing features that would be found in a home AV receiver. The Neural Surround decoder is supported, allowing the user to listen to an XM HD Surround broadcast in their car with full surround sound audio. In addition, TI’s Perfect Playback compressed audio enhancer provides a fuller, richer sound from a compressed audio source, such as MP3, WMA or AAC. Premium surround sound algorithms from audio companies, such as Dolby, DTS, SRS Labs and Audyssey Labs, also are supported by the VCDC reference design.

The VCDC reference design is available today from Texas Instruments and Mistral Software. Mistral offers custom software and hardware design services to help tailor the VCDC solution for a particular application and form factor. The combination of the reference design and custom software services allow manufacturers to bring products to the market quickly. The Aureus generation of audio DSPs is currently available and is Q100 automotive qualified.