The coming merger of computers, digital television, and digital audio got a lot closer on Mar. 9. In fact, it happened in chips. Texas Instruments Inc. unveiled what it boasts is the first digital-signal processor (DSP) chip that can simultaneously handle both moving TV images and CD-quality audio. TI's Multimedia Video Processor (MVP) chip, which will sell for less than $400 when it enters volume production in 1995, has 4 million transistors carved up into five parallel-processing DSP "engines." The chip can romp through 2 billion instructions every second. That's 10 to 20 times the speed of most other microprocessors, such as Intel Corp.'s Pentium.
By summer, the MVP chip should pop up on plug-in circuit boards that can replace 5,000 chips in current video-editing workstations, enabling any personal computer to receive, display, edit, and transmit high-definition TV and digital-audio signals. On Mar. 10, researchers at the University of Washington showed off a prototype, which has already been licensed to Precision Digital Images Corp. in Redmond, Wash. Other MVP applications in the works, says TI, include automated fingerprint-recognition systems for credit-card readers in stores, also due this summer, and all-digital TV chassis and videoconferencing systems, coming next year.