Microsoft's Zune tunes in to HD Radio

Posted by Aharon Etengoff

San Francisco, Calif. Microsoft has introduced its long-awaited HD Zune. The upgraded device - powered by Nvidia's Tegra processor - is capable of rendering high-quality video and playing HD radio.

SiPort CEO Aiman Kabakibo told TG Daily that his company had proposed the HD Radio concept to Microsoft shortly after the next-generation Zune was announced.

"We approached Microsoft and pitched the idea of HD radio for the Zune. They were intrigued and began to perceive HD radio as a differentiating feature from other MP3 players. Indeed, the iPod does not have HD radio capabilities [although the new Nano generation does include standard FM radio reception]," said Kabakibo.

Microsoft Zune HD

"HD radio also offers free content, as opposed to satellite radio, which is subscription-based. In addition, HD radio supports many new features including searchable content, pause, rewind and play. Users can also tag a song for future online purchase and access digital data services."

According to Kabakibo, SiPort worked closely with Microsoft to ensure that Zune users would enjoy HD radio without compromising battery life, form factor or cost.

"The first issue we encountered was how to insert our chip - fabricated using TSMC's advanced RF CMOS process - on such a tiny platform. So, we collaborated extensively with Microsoft on the board layout to faciliate seamless integration with the receiver," explained Kabakibo.

Zune HD Microsoft

"Once the PCB was ready, we carried out exhaustive testing to fine tune the on-board filters and minimize digital noise. We also focused on reducing power dissipation and coming up with a design that would give us the best performance per milliwatt."

Kabakibo added that SiPort was "constantly pursuing" various ways to improve power, performance, packaging and price.

"Our next-generation chip is expected to reduce power consumption by up to 30 percent and packaging by 50 percent. This will help facilitate increased performance and provide lower cost solutions."

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