DCT Hellas designs, produces and sells high speed telecommunication products, wireline modems and other wireless communication products. DCT Hellas also develops software for multimedia applications over ATM and non-guaranteed bandwidth LANs. The company has expertise in development of wireless and high speed baseband modems.
The objective of the application experiment was to design and prototype a JPEG codec ASIC and finally use it to speed the transfers of images with the VL-40 wireless modem. This device is capable of error-free wireless connections at 9600bps for a range of 10 to 20km, depending on the antenna type. It provides forward error detection and correction, Windows Plug and Play interface, standard AT commands, 800 programmable carrier frequencies and self-diagnostics.
The WIT-codec chip uses the baseline CCITT/ISO JPEG image compression algorithm, permitting high quality compression and decompression of YUV 4:2:2 color or 8-bit grayscale pictures. The chip is expected to be a low cost solution for a wide range of applications that require temporary storage or transmission of image data. Typical examples are digital cameras, color scanners, image processing, wireless or standard modems and teleconference applications.
The AE started in February 1997 and completed after 14 months, at the end of March 1998. The FUSE project provided 100 KECU of the AEs cost and DCT Hellas contributed another 180 KECU for a total project cost of 280 KECU.
DCT Hellas plans to use the JPEG codec ASIC inside the VL40 modem and other future products, and expects an increase in sales due to that fact. The company already signed an agreement to sell the ASIC through Atmel, as a standard part and collect royalties by Atmel for the usage of the core. At the same time, DCT Hellas will also sell the core (as an IP building block) to its customers obtaining additional profits. Furthermore, the wireless modem with the JPEG chip will be marketed within 1Q99. It is estimated that the ROI is of the order of 12 for the three-year period of modems lifetime. The pay back period is estimated in 18 months maximum. DCT Hellas expects a minimum of 30% increase in the sales of the VL-40 wireless modem during the first year, due to the new feature of the JPEG compression module. Until the year 2001 we expect to receive around 1,8 MECUs for the ASIC as royalties by Atmel, around 225 KECUs from sales of the IP core and around 1,6 MECUs from sales of our modem.
Finally, another great benefit from this AE was that through the development of this ASIC, we got knowledge and experience that opens numerous possibilities for the companys projects. The combination of cost and performance characteristics that ASIC technology gives, opens various replication possibilities for our future products. The experience we gained as a company and the successful outcome encourage us to continue. This AE can be a lesson for small companies like DCT-Hellas, which have expertise in conventional sectors of microelectronics and fear to move a step further.