Matsushita Electric plans to speed development of products by using a single new digital signal procecessor (DSP) chip it has developed across a range of products. It currently uses different chips for phones, audio products, TVs and DVD players.
The new DSP, which Matsushita calls its UniPhier multimedia processor, is capable of processing video and audio encoded in several different standards.
Using the same processor when designing different new products, Matsushita can cut development time in some cases to a fifth, the company said.
Some products using the processor, for example mobile phones, will use 30% to 50% less power, said Yuji Kakinuma, assistant senior councillor at Matsushita's corporate system LSI development division.
"At the moment, we use a number of different specialist DSPs. With the UniPhier processor we only need one. The processor enables lower power consumption and is more efficient," Kakinuma said.
The new DSP was necessary because the company needs to keep up with shrinking product cycle times, said Susumu Koike, Matsushita's senior managing director and chief technology officer.
In Japan, Matsushita has been releasing three new mobile phone models every six months, he said.
"There is a huge issue about the time it takes to get these products to market. The rate at which products are going to be released will be explosive," Koike said.
"We are reaching the limits of our ability to develop products on time. We needed a more efficient way," he said.
From 2005, Matsushita intends to launch new series of digital high-definition TVs, mobile phones with digital TV functions, new types of networked home appliances, audiovisual equipment and home servers. The new chip will help the company smooth its development processes and save money, Koike said.
The company said it will begin using the processor for designing new products in mid-2005. Products using the processor will begin appearing later that year.
The first products will be mobile devices "at the end of 2005" and in larger products such as TVs and DVD players in "early 2006", said the company.
"The amount of time and money it takes are going to change [with the new chip]," Koike said.
Paul Kallender writes for IDG News Service