Taiwan-based SoC developer MediaTek, which produces processing, demod, decoding and other chip solutions for many of the world’s largest smart TV manufacturers, introduced Thursday its Pentonic series of SoCs designed to bring support for a host of new codecs used in advanced smart TV applications.

The Pentonic family of chips cover a range of capabilities, including the ability to use leverage sophisticated new audio and video codecs and related technologies.

The Pentonic 700 SoC for mainstream 4K TVs will bring the ability to handle advanced gaming capabilities including support for up to 4K/144Hz high frame rates, Dolby Vision and HDR10+, in addition to bringing decode support for the newer AV1 and VVC codecs developed as efficient alternatives to the standard HEVC.

MediaTek’s announcement said: “The Pentonic 700 is slated to power mainstream 4K smart TVs as part of MediaTek’s broader Pentonic chipset family. With the introduction of this newest chipset, the Pentonic series offers brands a full range of options for premium, high-end and mass market TVs to meet different market needs,” announced MediaTek. “Smart TVs powered by Pentonic 700 are expected to be released in Q4 2022.”

Fraunhofer, the German codec developer, was quick to celebrate the Pentonic 700 announcement in a blog posting Thursday. MediaTek’s new high-end chips will also bring support for MPEG-H audio, which Franhofer was instrumental in developing to provid immersive spatial audio in TV broadcast standards and streaming applications. The advanced audio codec is currently part of Sony’s 360 Reality Audio (360RA) format of customizable, immersive high-rez music, as well as the sole audio codec used in South Korea’s NextGen TV ATSC 3.0 over-the-air TV broadcasting platform. MPEG-H was also recently selected for use in the Brazilian interim TV 2.5 and forthcoming TV 3.0 NextGen TV broadcasting systems, the latter of which will also use key parts of the ATSC 3.0 specification, including MPEG-H and AV1.

The U.S. version of the ATSC 3.0 NextGen TV standard uses Dolby AC-4 and HEVC as its primary A/V codecs of choice.

The announcement of the new Pentonic chip family was especially noteworthy as one of the first smart TV chip solutions to decode the Versatile Video Codec (VVC) which is also known as H.266. This is said to be even more efficient at bitrate handling than either HEVC or the recently added AV1 codec from the AOMedia consortium. The Pentonic 700 supports them all in addition to the newer AVS3 codec developed for the Peoples Republic of China.

Currently, no streaming or broadcast services are using VVC yet, but the AV1 codec has been implemented by Netflix and YouTube for more recently introduced TV models that support it along with HEVC.

In its blog, Fraunhofer said: “With its Pentonic series, MediaTek provides a platform for receiving over-the-air (OTA) broadcasts, over-the-top (OTT) services, and web streaming. Including MPEG-H Audio will enable TV manufacturers to equip their flagship products with immersive and personalized sound for broadcast and streaming applications, making the MPEG-H Audio experience ready for global markets. MediaTek is also among the first to support the latest VVC (h.266) standard and with native support for MPEG-H Audio, the Pentonic 2000 becomes the first TV Platform adhering to Brazil’s Next Generation broadcast system.”

Added Alfred Chan, MediaTek TV Business Unit VP: “With Pentonic, MediaTek offers a comprehensive global demodulation platform for receiving OTA broadcasts from all major standards including DVB, ATSC, and ISDB-T. “This makes it suitable to meet the existing specifications in Brazil, providing TV manufacturers with MPEG-H Audio support for today’s TV 2.5 broadcasts, as well as with the future TV 3.0”.

Up to 70% of smart TVs sold world wide use MediaTek chips. Leading TV brands that are MediaTek customers include Samsung, Sony, Panasonic, Philips, Vizio and Xiaomi, the company said.

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By Greg Tarr

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