Xbox gets second supplier of video chips

Xbox gets second supplier of video chips

Focus Enhancements has announced that it has been chosen as a second supplier of video processing chips for Microsoft's Xbox video game console, a Focus executive said on Wednesday.

Based in Campbell, California, Focus has designed a chip that converts video from a PC processor into video that can be viewed on a television. Microsoft has agreed to use the chips in its video game console, said Mike Kelly, Focus vice president of marketing for the semiconductor division.

A spokeswoman for Microsoft confirmed that Focus will become a second supplier of video processors for the Xbox but declined to comment further on the deal.

Focus will become one of two vendors to provide the video processor chips for the Xbox, Kelly said. Conexant Systems, in California, has supplied the video processor chips for the Xbox since it was launched in November last year.

Focus said it won the contract as Microsoft looked to lower the cost of components that are used to manufacture its video game console.

"We were part of a cost-reduction program," Kelly said. He noted that its chip will not displace those from its competitor but rather be used as a second source. Xbox consoles manufactured with the Focus chip will have the same features as those that use the chip from Conexant, he said.

Further details of the contract, including its value, its duration, and how many chips Focus has agreed to produce for Microsoft, were not disclosed.

Generally speaking, video processor chips work alongside a graphics card to take images produced by a PC processor -- in this case the processor inside the Xbox -- and convert them into images that can be viewed on a television set. Similar chips are used in television set-top boxes, Kelly said.

"What it's meant to do is convert computer-generated images to television images," Kelly said. "The Xbox is ostensibly a computer and it doesn't play on a typical computer monitor, it plays on your television set, so there needs to be a chip to convert the image."

The Xbox uses a graphics card from NVidia. In addition to working with that graphics chip, Focus also makes video processor chips that are used in a set-top box from Nokia, as well as in a reference design for a digital entertainment centre from Intel, Kelly said.

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