Broadcom Cell Chip Goes HD

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Broadcom Corp. on Tuesday announced a low-power multimedia processor that it said will give cell-phone users access to high-definition video playback, 3D gaming and 12-megapixel camera capabilities without sacrificing battery life.

The VideoCore III processor is part of Broadcom's effort to power a new generation of mobile phones that deliver a high-quality multimedia experience, the company said in a press release.

The company's BCM2727 processor will be the first to incorporate Broadcom's VideoCore III multimedia architecture. The processor supports high-definition camcorder functionality, which allows users to encode and decode high-definition video in 720p mode, with 720 lines progressively scanned. It supports 12-megapixel digital camera processing, with an on-chip image signal processor for color correction, image stabilization and red-eye reduction. On-board 2D and 3D graphics accelerators are designed to provide a rich multimedia experience and support more than 50 image and video standards and codecs, the company said.

VideoCore is the third generation in a line of cellular processors that have been used in 25 million cell phones so far, according to Broadcom.

Broadcom is the first company with a chip to deliver high-definition images on cell phones, said Will Strauss, principal analyst at Forward Concepts Co.

Today's cell phones contain relatively low-quality digital cameras, and this chip could help change the trend, Strauss said. "Ultimately, cameras in cell phones will be a bigger market than separate cameras," he said.

Broadcom is also flexing its muscles in the cell-phone processor market with VideoCore III, Strauss said. Broadcom is beginning to ship 3G chipsets, and Nokia recently selected Broadcom's cellular processor for future equipment using EDGE (Enhanced Data Rates for GSM Evolution), a fast version of GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications), Strauss said.

The chips are available today in sample quantities. On Tuesday, Broadcom could not comment on pricing or commercial availability.

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