Fresco Microchip, a manufacturer of hybrid TV receiver chips, has raised $14.3 million in its second round of funding.
Unlikely many other companies, Fresco isn’t just betting on digital broadcasting. The Toronto company recently unveiled the FM 2050, a chip that can process digital and analog signals. There are plenty of TVs and other electronic devices that can process both kinds of signals, but Fresco Marketing and Sales VP Mike Gittings said his company is the first to combine the two – as well as intermediate frequency (IF) processing – into a single chip. Fresco’s solution is more efficient and less expensive, he said.
Only a few other companies combine even two out of the three, and most handle each process separately, Gittings added.
With digital broadcasting on the rise – for example, all TV broadcasts in the United States must be digital by Feb. 17, 2009 – a hybrid receiver may seem obsolete. But for many countries, the switchover could be as far off as 2015 or more, Gittings said. Even in the U.S., some analog cable broadcasts will probably continue for a while, he added.
“Analog is not going away overnight,” he said.
Eventually, Fresco may need to go all-digital, Gittings said. For now, though, the hybrid market seems like a better place than analog-only or digital-only for the company to “establish a beachhead.” Analog is in decline, and there’s tough competition in the digital field, which includes giants like Intel and STMicroelectronics.
The FM 2050 can be installed in digital TVs, set-top boxes, digital video recorders and other products in Europe, Asia and Africa, Gittings said. Earlier this month, Taiwan company AzureWave announced it will be including the FM 2050 in its PCTV products.
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