Soon, High Definition T Vs May Come Sans Picture Tubes

With the Federal Communications Commission heading down the home stretch in picking a standard for high-definition TV (BW--Feb. 22), Texas Instruments Inc. has demonstrated a unique imaging system that may make HDTV sets smaller and more affordable. In Japan, HDTVs with near-photographic-quality displays now run $8,000 and up. That's less than half of last year's price, but the cost of huge, 32-inch-diagonal screens is sure to keep prices high.

So TI proposes to eliminate the picture tube. In its place, the Dallas company has developed an amazing silicon chip. Its surface is carved into 307,200 fly-speck mirrors, each of which can be individually tilted to reflect a light beam to a specific point on a video display. An official of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, which held a February meeting for HDTV researchers it is funding, terms the TI imaging chip "dazzling." But it's not ready for prime time yet: Producing HDTV resolution will require almost 7 million micromirrors. TI figures it can get there by ganging up three chips, each with 2.3 million mirrors.

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