Sharp To Sell Portable Media Players

These ready-to-use reference designs provide complete hardware and software solutions enabling easy product differentiation, rapid time to market, and lower system costs.

Portable media players are part of a new generation of devices that enable consumers to manage audio, image, and video files in a single, hand-held platform. According to a recent report, In-Stat MDR forecasts that over 100 million MPEG-4 ICs for mobile applications will ship in 2007. To meet this market demand, developers will need lower cost and higher quality solutions than are currently available. Sharp is dedicated to meeting this demand with two new media player reference designs.

“By delivering a small form factor, cost-effective QCIF+ reference design, Sharp is enabling our customers to tap into a huge potential market for lower-cost portable media players,” said Christophe Chene, Senior Director of IC Marketing for Sharp Microelectronics. “Our highly integrated QVGA reference design utilizes Sharp’s latest generation display technology to provide a higher quality and a more cost effective solution for current generation QVGA portable media players.”

Tony Massimini, an analyst with Semico Research, remarked, “I see Sharp as well positioned in the media player market because of its ability to offer total systems solutions, including the high processing power and quality display capabilities needed in emerging media player devices.”

Reference Designs Provide System Solution Featuring Sharp’s SoCs and LCDs

With a strong history in media technology, and as a market leader in LCD, NOR Flash memory, CMOS imagers, optoelectronics, and other components, Sharp is uniquely positioned to deliver reference designs that are well integrated, proven solutions based on Sharp components. Both reference designs include a development board, bill of materials, schematics, operating system software, video and audio codecs, board support package, and technical support. Application complexity, component count, weight, and device size are all minimized, translating into a lower overall system cost.

The Sharp LH7A404 ARM9 SoC is a key component in both reference designs. In a single package it provides all the major interfaces needed for hand-held portable media players including an interface to Sharp’s latest generation LCD panels, AC97 audio, CompactFlash, MMC/SD, USB, NAND Flash, and SDRAM support, and sufficient performance to decode compressed video and audio.

Both reference designs are also based on a state-of-the-art LCD display from Sharp. The QVGA reference design leverages a unique 3.6-inch native landscape Amorphous Silicon (A-Si) TFT-LCD (LQ036Q1DA01) specifically developed for portable media applications. The QCIF+ reference design utilizes a 2.2-inch A-Si TFT-LCD (LQ022B8UB04) also developed for mobile applications. Both panels provide excellent color saturation and low power consumption with LED backlighting.

“Sharp’s Mobile LCD engineering has anticipated the need for unique displays suitable for the requirements of the PMP market and has responded with exciting new technology and landscape LCD products that are optimized for media content,” said Joel Pollack, Vice President of the Display Business Unit at Sharp Microelectronics of the Americas.

Media Player Reference Design SpecificationsItem                      QCIF+ Design                  QVGA Design----                      ------------                  -----------Microcontroller           ARM9 SoC: Sharp LH7A404----------------------------------------------------------------------Video Formats             WMV, MPEG4----------------------------------------------------------------------Audio Formats             WMA, AAC, MP3----------------------------------------------------------------------Picture Formats           JPEG, TIFF, BMP, GIF----------------------------------------------------------------------Hard Drive Technologies   1.0" CompactFlash             1.8" IDE ATA                          Microdrive                    support----------------------------------------------------------------------Removable Media           MultiMediaCard and Secure                          Digital----------------------------------------------------------------------Data Interface            USB 2.0 Full Speed            USB 2.0 High                                                        Speed----------------------------------------------------------------------Audio Interface           Stereo headphone jack----------------------------------------------------------------------                                                        3.6" A-Si                          2.2" A-Si transflective,      transmissive,LCD TFT Display           176 x 220 QCIF+ resolution    320 x 240                                                        landscape mode----------------------------------------------------------------------Battery                   Li-Ion battery charge circuit----------------------------------------------------------------------Power                     5V DC input, battery or USB----------------------------------------------------------------------Operating Systems         WinCE .NET, uC/OS, ThreadX,                          VxWorks----------------------------------------------------------------------


Sharp will begin shipping the QCIF+ reference design to customers starting in August 2004 and the QVGA reference design will ship in September 2004. These designs are the first in a series of reference designs that will address next generation media players, electronic learning, and gaming devices. For more information regarding Sharp’s reference designs, contact Sharp Microelectronics of the Americas at 1-800-642-0261, or visit