Sigma Designs

Sigma Designs provider of Soc Media Processor chips
Sigma relies on a MIPS technolgies arthetecture
Sigma Timeline






Sigma Designs entered the multimedia market in 1993 with products based on the MPEG (Moving Picture Experts Group) standard for compressing and decompressing digital audio and video signals.



EM8220 35$ DVD mpeg 2

D-Link's Media Lounge series of digital media receivers including model DSM-320 for standard definition video and model DSM-520 for high definition video. 

NETGEAR's Digital Entertainer model

LAS VEGAS--(BUSINESS WIRE)--April 18, 2005--Sigma Designs  a leader in digital media processing for consumer appliances, today announced that the EM8622L and EM8624L media processors now add full H.264 and VC-1 decoding support to the popular EM8620L series. The EM8622L is a direct pin- and software-compatible upgrade to the EM8620L, while the EM8624L extends functionality for high-definition display products. At this week's National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) show in Las Vegas, Sigma will showcase its EM8622L processor at the Sigma hospitality suite located at the Hilton Hotel.

"The EM8622L enables customers to effortlessly upgrade their existing EM8620L based products with H.264 and VC-1 decoding," said Ken Lowe, VP of strategic marketing. "This will lead to a wide range of digital media adapters, IP set-top boxes, high-definition displays and DVD players coming on the market in the second half of this year with all-format media processing, obviating the need to choose which standard to support."

Next Generation Consumer Products Embrace Advanced Codecs and High Definition

The increasing pervasiveness of digital media, coupled with a fundamental need for entertainment alternatives, are paving the way for explosive growth in new types of consumer products and services. Telcos around the world are preparing to launch premium video services, DVD is moving to high definition, homes are using wireless networks to access media anywhere, digital media adapters (DMAs) are featured within displays and portable players are just about to experience video on-the-go. The common denominator: advanced compression technologies and high performance media processors turning these concepts into commercial realities.

Driving this movement is a transition from the digital media monopoly, held by MPEG-2 for the past 10 years, yielding to a duopoly shared by two new video codecs that provide more than twice the compression efficiency: VC-1, a SMPTE specification based on Microsoft's Windows Media Video 9 (WMV9); and H.264, a shared specification from ITU and MPEG associations, also known as AVC, and MPEG-4 part 10. Moving forward, VC-1 and H.264 appear destined to equally share the role as next generation digital media standards.

For future DVD players, the movement toward high-definition content using VC-1 and H.264 with continued support for MPEG-2 is a near certainty as both HD-DVD and Blu-ray camps have selected these new codec standards. For some time, advanced DVD players featuring MPEG-4 content, high-definition output, and network connectivity have been popular with entertainment enthusiasts. However, the enormous momentum behind the emergence of HD-DVD and Blu-ray players will usher this level of performance into the mainstream and bring with it a tidal wave of content that requires multi-format support. Meanwhile, high-definition DVD players currently using the WMV9 codec are being purchased by enthusiasts with the desire to utilize the resolution of their HDTVs.

Moving into the future, many other digital media products are adopting one or all of these new video codecs. Digital media receivers (DMRs) provide seamless flow of video content to TV sets throughout the home, and offer access to the growing collections of PC-based, digital photos, music and video, much of which is now based on WMV9 and Windows Media Audio (WMA). Likewise, high-definition televisions are moving to support the widening range of broadcast standards, including the migration of DVB, ARIB and ATSC to high-definition, H.264 content. Moving down the road, new portable media players, sporting video playback, are adding WMV9 compression to more than double their video storage capacity, as well as tap into the growing list of downloadable content.

Decoding in All-Formats

Sigma's EM8622L and EM8624L provide system-on-chip (SOC) silicon solutions that feature all major compression technologies and support high definition. Key features include:

-- Video decoding up to high definition for H.264 (MPEG-4 part 10), VC-1 (WMV9), MPEG-2 and MPEG-4 (part 2).

-- Graphics acceleration with 32-bit alpha-blending, raster operations, and line drawing functions.

-- Audio decoding capability for Dolby Digital, WMA, WMA Pro, MPEG, AAC, MP3, and MPEG 1 or 2, layers I, II and III.

-- JPEG acceleration.

-- Motion adaptive deinterlacing for flat-panel, digital television output, as well as NTSC/PAL encoded video output for standard analog televisions.

-- Digital Rights Management (DRM) support with hardware cryptography engines for high speed payload decryption including AES, DES, triple-DES, RC4, CSS, DVB-CSA and Multi-2.

-- Single-chip solution with on-chip CPU, unified memory controller, IDE controller, general purpose IO and Ethernet MAC controller (EM8624L only).

To ensure quick time-to-market and engineering convenience, Sigma will provide a library of streaming video and media playback software, including a real-time streaming engine for IP-based video-on-demand applications, a DVD navigation module for playback from various forms of stored media, a network stack, and a hardware abstraction layer for low-level program control.

Sigma Designs -- Powering the Digital Media Generation

For more than five years, Sigma Designs has been investing in the development of advanced high-definition codecs to drive the expansion of the digital media consumer market. Based on its media processors and streaming software technologies, Sigma has established a leadership position in single-chip solutions for IPTV set-top boxes, digital media receivers and networked DVD players. Taking advantage of this technology, consumer products are being distributed on a worldwide basis by such leading manufacturers as D-Link, Fujitsu-Siemens, I-O Data, Kenwood, KiSS Technology, LG Electronics, Lite-ON IT, Onkyo, Samsung, Sharp, Sony and many others.


The EM8622L and EM8624L media processors will be sold through Sigma's direct sales force. Samples of the EM8622L will be available in May and samples of the EM8624L will be available in June. Production availability will begin in August.



Popcorn A-110


C-200 Popcorn


WDTV 2 Eminent


Sigma 865x vs. 864x

 Sigma's chips, the SMP865x and the SMP864x line. Even though the numbers might make you believe, the SMP864x is the "newer" chip introduced in January at CES Las Vegas in 2009 while the 865x was introduced at the same show last year. The newer chip is also the most powerful one with 667MHz on board and no less than 3 Audio DSP's at 333MHz. The benefit of this would be simultaneously output audio over multiple output (HDMI and SPDIF for instance).

The SMP864x chip is made with Blu-ray in mind besides the usual stuff whilst the older chip running at 500MHz is made for the usual media players withouth Blu-ray. There are more differences like the newer chip supporting SD cards, having a pheripheral bus and then some other differences. In the end, all we want to say is the SMP864x is the newer and more powerful chip with more abilities than the 865x chips if used by the vendors properly.

Even more interesting is the performance translation. Looking at the comparison sheet at Sigma, there's a reference to the performance of video ranging from MPEG-1 to H.264 clearing up the difference in HD performance dispalyed as 1.25X HD or 2 HD.

Media formats 1.25X HD or 2HD
This is nothing but a decrypted reference to the performance of the chip. 1X is referenced as being able to handle 30mbps video. 1.25X thus means the chip is capable of processing 40mbps and 2X actually means it can do 60mbps. For real, the SMP864x chip can perform up to 80mbps according to the info we got but even with the 2X "60mbps" we'd be fine already. The SMP864x with 2 HD reference is officially 33% faster than the SMP865x chip with the 1.25x HD reference. Now that's about the most important differences between these chips.