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Speakers-on-a-Chip Cuts Costs, Power

Speakers-on-a-Chip Cuts Costs, Power

Golden Mousetrap 2009 WinnerA new speaker-on-a-chip integrates a voice processor, audio codec and amplifier onto a single device, potentially reducing cost and complexity for designers of smart phones, computer speakers, intercoms and other audio systems.

Known as the CX20562 USB Speakers-on-a-Chip, the new product could enable engineers to simplify their designs, reduce space and power consumption, and lower their bill-of-material costs. Engineers at Conexant Systems Inc., developer of the technology, say the new chip could be particularly important in the design of battery-based products, in which power consumption is critical.

"It's a pretty daunting task to put the software, voice and audio algorithms together," says Rene Hartner, vice president of marketing at Conexant. "But we've integrated three stand-alone components onto this chip, and whenever you integrate more functions onto a chipset, you reduce the power consumption."

The CX20562 is reportedly the first product to combine a digital/voice processor, audio codec and Class-D amplifier onto a single chip. The integration of the three is said to be significant because it eliminates the commonly-used multiple chip design, thereby cutting manufacturing costs. Conexant engineers say that the turnkey solution also makes it easy and cost-effective for manufacturers to deliver USB-based products to market faster.

Conexant expects the system-on-chip to have a wide variety of applications. Smart phones, for example, often must be connected to docking stations where they can play music and broadcast calls through speakers. Similarly, PCs routinely employ speakers and so-called "sound bars" where Conexant's chip could play a role. PC makers might also use the device in the integration of voice over IP (VoIP), while makers of portable navigation devices could incorporate it for application of turn-by-turn directions in automobiles.

Ultimately, the device is expected to help lower bill of material costs in the design of many commodity products where profit margins are often razor thin. "Every time you can integrate more functions into a piece of silicon, you reduce the overall cost of the system," Hartner says.

Speakers-on-a-Chip Cuts Costs, Power

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