Although it’s not yet clear how much digital content US television networks are actually going to broadcast beginning next year, US legislators pressing hard for the adoption of digital High Definition TV will be encouraged by yesterday’s agreement between Motorola Inc and Sarnoff Corp for creating low- cost chips for building digital TVs and other devices. Motorola’s consumer semiconductor unit is to begin designing and manufacturing chips using HDTV specification pioneer Sarnoff’s digital video technology. Motorola expects a 28 digital television using the chipsets to cost around $2,650 and boxes that convert digital signals so they can be viewed on conventional TVs around $250. The chipsets include six-channel Dolby surround sound. Early versions of products using the chipsets are expected next year although it’ll be 1999 before volume sales of most products begin. Developer boards for building the set-tops are due next quarter, the HDTV chipset in the fourth quarter. Other chipsets in the pipe will be targeted at the Digital Video Disk and digital camcorder markets. Motorola will use its Coldfire RISC core in chipsets for desktop converters. PowerPC will be used as the chipsets for the HDTV television products and in future Media TV offerings, the company says. Some Japanese television builders are developing their own chipsets for digital TVs and both Thomson SA’s consumer products division and Philips Electronics NV are also expected to compete with Motorola in this market. Digital TV signals can also be received by specially-equipped PCs and other computers.
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