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Digital Radio Mondiale DRM Goes Car Radio


WEBWIRE

ERLANGEN, Germany -- 1/10/2005 -- Fraunhofer IIS presented the first DRM chip design for car radios. It will be a reference for many industrial solutions. This development is going to offer individual en route entertainment.

With the international CES exhibition in Las Vegas on January 6 - 9, 2005, the vision of Digital Radio Mondiale DRM car radios got one step closer to reality. Based on Philips’ “SAF7730” digital car radio platform, Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits IIS presented the first DRM implementation that seamlessly fits into today’s car radios. For the OEM, upgrading to the international DRM standard is just a matter of inserting a “DRM module” into an existing connector slot. Initially, the “DRM module” upgrade allows to differentiate products with minimum investment, risk and time to market. In the next stage, the evolving road maps with fully integrated “DRM car radio chip sets” will lower the system cost further, completely inline with the requirements of the mass market.

The DRM standard applies the latest advanced audio coding algorithms for music and speech transmission - to provide FMlike sound quality at very limited bandwidth. DRM programs are digitally transmitted and highly compressed. Therefore, they may be stored on-the-fly in the car radio’s memory, to build up a personal music collection. In addition, DRM programs carry other types of multimedia content and information, including headline news or traffic and tourist information. This data is transmitted in the background and will be immediately available after one gets into the vehicle.

The car radio solution of Fraunhofer IIS will enable drivers to select their prefered radio program from hundreds of different radio stations. However, it is something more than purely listening to favorite music: the new radio formats offer multilingual support to ethnic news or talk programs. In this way, drivers will get local news or may listen to programs in foreign languages - at any time and any place.

The technical solution presented for DRM car radios uses Philips’ “SAF7730” digital car radio platform. It is equipped with an integrated Philips tuner “TEF6730” capable of digital AM and FM decoding and sound processing. The DRM decoder, based on the algorithms of the well known “Fraunhofer DRM Software Radio”, is integrated in hardware on a FPGA prototype. The decoding of data services runs on an ARM9 processor on the same prototype board. This processor is also used for audio and speech decoding, employing the decoder libraries from Coding Technologies.

Broadcasters will benefit from this Digital Radio Mondiale DRM solution for car radios: DRM provides broadcasters with additional spectrum in the AM bands. The fact that it is easy and cost-efficient to bring DRM programs on air enables established stations to broaden their coverage area. Moreover, it opens opportunities to newcomers and innovative content providers to bring in more program diversity to reach their specific audiences.

About DRM DRM is the only universal, non-proprietary digital AM radio system with FM sound quality available to markets worldwide. Besides providing high quality audio, the DRM system has the capability to integrate data and text. This additional content can be displayed on DRM receivers to enhance the listening experience. Unlike digital systems that require a new frequency allocation, DRM uses existing AM broadcast frequency bands. The DRM signal is designed to fit within the existing AM broadcast spectrum allocation, using signals of only 4.5 to 20 kHz bandwidth.

About Fraunhofer IIS Founded in 1985 the Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits IIS in Erlangen, today with 450 staff members, ranks first among the Fraunhofer Institutes concerning headcount and revenues. With the development of the audio coding method MP3, Fraunhofer IIS has reached worldwide recognition. It provides research services on contract basis and technology licensing. The research topics are: Audio and video source coding, multimedia realtime systems, digital radio broadcasting and digital cinema systems, integrated circuits and sensor systems, design automation, wireless, wired and optical networks, localization and navigation, imaging systems and nanofocus X-ray technology, high-speed cameras, medical sensor solutions and communications technology in transport and logistics. The budget of 50 million Euro is mainly financed by projects from industry, the service sector and public authorities. Less than 20 percent of the budget is subsidized by federal and state funds.

In the field of digital radio, Fraunhofer IIS is the leader among the international research labs. It has been the main developer of the most advanced audio coding schemes, like MP3, MPEG-2 AAC and MPEG-4 AAC (Advanced Audio Coding) and made significant contributions to the definition, design and implementation of Digital Audio Broadcast DAB, WorldSpace Digital Radio, XM Satellite Radio and Digital Radio Mondiale DRM.



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