As video consumption and recording capabilities begin to extend to mobile devices, there is a growing overlap in required algorithms and video processing techniques between such devices and their counterparts on a shelf in the living room. Functions such as image scaling, frame rate conversion, resolution and color enhancement, and noise and artifact suppression are becoming increasingly essential in mobile CE applications, especially as consumers seek more capable mobile devices and as display quality on smaller screens sees rapid improvement. Semiconductor suppliers such as Zoran (now part of CSR) and Trident developed or acquired intellectual property originally intended for SoCs targeted at set-top box (STB) and TV platforms, and now that streaming video is becoming a crucial function in mobile devices, such technologies have an increasing value proposition to application processor chip suppliers to the mobile market. In September 2011, Qualcomm and IDT announced that HQV video and image processing intellectual property and technology IDT had previously acquired from video-processing startup Silicon Optix in 2008 was being transferred to Qualcomm, pointing to a growing need for suppliers of application processor chips used in smartphones and tablets to embed more video-focused technology and hardware. Growth in smartphone and media tablet shipments, two key mobile CE application products, are expected to outstrip growth in the traditional CE equipment space (TV, STB, DVD player/recorders) as usual, highlighting a key opportunity for CE suppliers to enter the market.
For the past several years, Intel, undisputed king in the compute/CPU semiconductor market, has also been developing and bringing to market new chipsets targeted directly at the traditional CE platforms such as DVD players, STBs and – to a lesser extent – TVs as well. The growing adoption of several services and products, specifically broadband data and media services, integrated digital TVs, and online video distribution, have converged to create a need for network and IP enabled, or “Smart”, CE devices. The strong growth trend for “Smart TV” models, and a growing requirement for more complex solutions with much more CPU and GPU resources made available to the system, may potentially create a discontinuity in the TV SoC market due to the need for more complex, open hardware platforms in these new Smart TVs. However, recognizing the significant competition inherent in the TV SoC space from Taiwanese suppliers Mstar and Mediatek, as well as internally developed ASIC solutions from CE OEMs Samsung, Panasonic and Toshiba, along with slow uptake of first generation GoogleTV systems, Intel recently announced that it was shifting focus away from TV SoC solutions. Instead, Intel will focus their digital home oriented products development efforts primarily on the more fragmented and less cost sensitive STB space and the red-hot market for media tablet processor. Thus, while “Smart” TVs are expected to see strong growth in the coming years, the number of TV shipments is vastly outmatched by the much faster growth , and larger unit shipments, in the smartphone and media tablet markets, indicating greater potential for semi suppliers.
Find Out More > Smart TV: Boon or Boondoggle for TV Semiconductor Market?