NEC Electronics Corp announced June 18, 2008, that it started shipping samples of SCOMBO/UM2A, an SoC chip designed for use in Blu-ray Disc (BD) systems that support 8x recording and playback, in Japan.
The company integrated the analog signal processing circuit, which controls an optical pickup unit, and the digital signal processing circuit, which performs data modulation and demodulation as well as error correction, into a single chip. The chip is targeted for use in personal computers and audio-visual equipment.
The company's existing SoC chip, namely SCOMBO/UM, is only compatible with 5x recording and playback. In addition, SCOMBO/UM has the analog and digital signal processing circuits that are provided in separate chips.
This time, NEC Electronics employed a wideband analog signal processing circuit in order to support Blu-ray 8x recording and playback. The circuit was originally developed for use in 20x DVD systems. Furthermore, the company adopted the CMOS technology to produce the analog circuit, instead of using the BiCMOS technology.
As a result, the analog circuit can be integrated with the digital signal processing unit in a single chip. Compared with the company's existing product, the footprint of the latest chip is 20% smaller, and the power consumption was reduced by 33% to 1.8W.
Along with the SCOMBO/UM2A, the company started shipping samples of the SCOMBO/UM2P, which only provides the Blu-ray playback function. SCOMBO/UM2P supports 5x recording and playback, instead of 8x. The sample price of SCOMBO/UM2A is ¥2,000 (US$18.54, price may vary depending on country), while SCOMBO/UM2P is priced at ¥1,500. Both models are manufactured based on the 0.15μm process technology at NEC Kumamoto Plant in Japan.
The company plans to expand the mass-production scale from 300,000 units per month in the first half of fiscal 2008 to one million units per month by the end of fiscal 2008. The company hopes to increase its share (in terms of units) of SoC chips for BD systems from 40% in fiscal 2007 to 50% in fiscal 2008.
While enhancing recording and playback speeds, as well as reducing power consumption, NEC Electronics intends to promote the integration of the read-only chip and the company's proprietary image processing SoC chip "EMMA." It is reportedly under development and will be unveiled shortly although the company did not reveal the shipment schedule. The next-generation chip "supports 12-16x recording and playback in theory," the company said.