General Information

During the last decade, multimedia have become part of everyone's life due to the tremendous growth in the field of communications and computing system. Much of this growth has been fostered by the evolution of multimedia framework, an exciting variety of new product and services ranging from video games, car navigators and web surfing to interactive televisions, cellular and video phones, personal digital assistants, video on demand, desktop video conferecing, entertainment and education.

In addition to conventional user interfaces and I/O operations, the multimedia appIications demand real-time digital signal processing (DSP) to support compression and decompression of audio, speech and video signal, speech recognition and synthesis, and charater recognition. These operations require intensive multiply and multiply-accumulate operations unique to DSP such as filtering, motion detection and compensation, Discrete Cosine Transforms (DCTs), and Fast Fourier transforms (FFTs).

Although many of these algorithms have been known for decades, it is only in the last few years that VLSI technology has advanced to the point where the enormous computing power required for multimedia applications can be met at very low costs. It is expected that in the next decade the CMOS technology will scale down to O.1 micron device with corresponding improvements in density and speed. The number of transistors on single chips is expected to increase from current 6M to 200M by the next few years.

Digital TV transmission has begun in 1999. Consumers can then use the same device either as a digital TV or as a PC (in non-interlaced or progressive mode). The same devices, along with a set-top box, can be used to watch television, listen to music CDs, access videos stored on CD-ROMs and DVD-ROMs, and for VCRs and video games. This setup has been termed PC theater.

The PC theater can allow the user to read several email messages or access the Internet in the middle at watching a TV program (for example during an advertisement). This convergence of the TV and the PC will be the key in accessing multimedia information from home.