Hoping to take media streaming far beyond the levels of MPEG-2, iVAST and Sigma Designs have formed a strategic partnership to co-develop an MPEG-4 design for digital set-tops, DVD players and other consumer electronics devices.
Under terms of the agreement, the design will meld iVast's MPEG-4 player with Sigma's EM8475 decoder chip. The final product will enable users to tap multiple video and audio streams, layered 2D and 3D images, text and animation, and adhere to specs set forth by the Internet Streaming Media Alliance (ISMA).
Depending on variables such as picture quality, MPEG-4 bit rates typically range from 750 kilobits per second to 1.5 megabits per second. In contrast, MPEG-2 bit rates run from 2 Mbps on the low end, and up to 6 Mbps for DVD-quality images.
MPEG-4, a standards-based streaming codec, is competing for sector dominance with proprietary techniques offered by companies such as Microsoft Corp. and RealNetworks Inc.
MPEG-4 could proliferate via cable and satellite systems, though standard and proprietary streaming codecs will probably share in the Internet market, said Ganesh Rajan, iVAST's director of advanced technology.
Company Vice President of Marketing Kent Libbey said iVAST is in "advanced discussions" with several MSOs, and predicted that some operators could deploy services and applications based on MPEG-4 by the end of 2002.