C-Cube bets on DoMiNo

Chip is designed to work with diverse digital devices

Silicon-chip manufacturer C-Cube Microsystems is using this week's Consumer Electronics Show to unveil the DoMiNo Network Media Processor, a digital codec designed to work in cable set-tops, DVD players, DTV receivers, personal video recorders (PVRs), and future networked devices such as home media servers.

The DoMiNo chip (the capital letters in the name refer to digital, media and networks) includes a multistream audio/ video codec and integrated transport stream and IEEE 1394 network interfaces. The chip supports a variety of media formats, including MPEG-1, MPEG-2 (including HDTV), MPEG-4, DV and MP3. It will also transcode material between different formats or re-encode material within a single format.

For example, a DoMiNo-equipped device could convert DV video from a digital camcorder to MPEG-2 and then store it on a DVD-recordable disk, convert CD audio to MP3 files for music-on-the-go, or convert DVD video to MPEG-4 to enable Internet streaming. DoMiNo could also take MPEG-2 video at 8 Mb/s and recompress it to 4 Mb/s for more-efficient storage on a hard disk or removable-media format, such as recordable DVD (DVD-R). (In that vein, DoMiNo supports Macrovision analog copy protection and 5C digital copy protection as well as other encryption schemes.)

C-Cube Vice President of Marketing and Corporate Development Patrick Henry says such transcoding capability is essential for bridging the various "digital islands" and enabling new consumer applications. "We future-proof the box by being able to support all multiple formats," he says, pointing out that he expects recordable DVD disks to be a big driver for the wide acceptance of personal video recorders and, eventually, home servers.

The DoMiNo chip will begin sampling in the second quarter and should begin shipping in late third quarter or early fourth quarter.

Henry expects that the price will be approximately $30 initially but will drop dramatically with volume.