Monday, December 12, 2005

Chip joins camcorder, digital camera

stealth Silicon Valley semiconductor chip start-up is betting that it can leapfrog bigger video market rivals with chips for high-definition video camcorders that also function as high-quality digital cameras.

Ambarella, a 75-engineer company in Sunnyvale, is announcing today it has created a low-power chip designed to make HD camcorders more practical. Les Kohn, chief technology officer and co-founder, predicts that his company's power-efficient HD chip will make possible smaller, lower cost, and more power-efficient HD camcorder-cameras. Such cameras currently cost about $2,000.

The new family of chips from Ambarella operate on less than a watt of power, far less than most semiconductor chips, making them ideal for portable gadgets that need a lot of battery life. The chips compress and play back video in a new format called H.264, a high-definition format that will replace the aging MPEG-2 video used today in a variety of technologies. Ambarella has finished its design and expects to sell the chip in the first quarter.

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