We are a leading fabless provider of highly integrated circuits including system-on-chip, or SoC, solutions that are used to deliver multimedia entertainment throughout the home. We currently offer four distinct technologies that we market as separate product lines: media processors, VXP video image processing, Ultra-wideband devices and Z-wave devices. Each of these technologies also contributes to our fully integrated SoC offerings.
Our media processor product line represents a family of SoC solutions that combine our semiconductors and software and are a critical component of multiple high-growth, consumer applications that process digital video and audio content, including internet protocol TV, or IPTV, connected media player, high definition TVs, or HDTVs, and portable media players.
Our media processors provide high definition digital video decoding for multiple compression standards, graphics acceleration, audio decoding, a central processing unit, or CPU, and display control. Our software provides control of media processing and system security management. Together, our media processor semiconductors and software form a complete SoC solution that we believe provides our customers with a foundation from which they can quickly develop feature-rich consumer entertainment products.
Our VXP video image processing product line provides a high performance silicon solution that enables studio-quality video output for professional and prosumer applications, such as audio video receivers, broadcast studios, digital cinema, digital signage, front-projection home theatre televisions, HDTV, medical imaging and video conferencing systems.
Our Ultra-wideband, or UWB, devices product line provides a high bandwidth radio frequency, or RF, communication solution, based on the WiMedia standard, to enable home networking and connectivity of high definition video signals using wireless and coax mediums.
Our Z-wave devices product line provides a low-bitrate, low-power, low-cost RF communication solution that provides for ubiquitous home control of security, monitoring, and automation, or SMA.
We believe we are the leading provider of digital media processor SoCs for set-top boxes in the IPTV market in terms of units shipped. For set-top boxes in the IPTV market, we believe we are currently the only provider qualified to ship digital media processor SoCs based on the Microsoft IPTV platform. Our SoC solutions are used by leading IPTV set-top box providers, such as Cisco Systems/Scientific Atlanta, Motorola, Netgem and UTStarcom. IPTV set-top boxes incorporating our SoC solutions are deployed by telecommunications carriers globally, including carriers in Asia, Europe and North America, such as AT&T, British Telecom, Deutsche Telekom and Freebox. We work closely with these carriers and set-top box providers, as well as with systems software providers, such as Microsoft, to design solutions that address the carriers' specific requirements regarding features and performance. Our media processor products are also used by consumer electronics providers, such as D-Link, Netgear, Panasonic, Pioneer, Sharp, Sony and Toshiba, in applications such as Blu-ray DVD players, HDTVs and portable media players. Our VXP products are one of the leading solutions for studio-quality video image processing and are used by leading industry participants such as Polycom, Sony and Panasonic. Our UWB and Z-wave devices product lines target emerging markets and, while they are in production now, we have not yet experienced significant orders from our customers.
We have been providing video and audio solutions for over 15 years. We began volume shipments in January 2006 of our SMP8630 series, our fourth generation SoC solution serving the IPTV, connected media player and HDTV markets and began initial shipments of our next generation SMP8650 series in January 2009.
We were incorporated in California in January 1982. Our principal offices are located at 1778 McCarthy Blvd, Milpitas, California 95035, and our telephone number at that location is (408) 262-9003. Our website is located at www.sigmadesigns.com; however, the information in, or that can be accessed through, our website is not part of this report. Our annual reports on Form 10-K, quarterly reports on Form 10-Q, current reports on Form 8-K and amendments to such reports are available, free of charge, through the “Investors” section of our website as soon as reasonably practicable after we electronically file such material with, or furnish it to, the SEC. Additionally, copies of materials filed by us with the SEC may be accessed at the SEC’s Public Reference Room at 100 F Street, N.E., Washington, D.C. 20549 or at www.sec.gov. For information about the SEC’s Public Reference Room, contact 1-800-SEC-0330, send an electronic message to SEC at firstname.lastname@example.org or by sending a fax to 1-202-777-1027.
The growth of the Internet, proliferation of rich multimedia content, advances in communications infrastructure, digital video and audio compression technologies and improvements in television displays have resulted in significant demand for the applications that we primarily target, which are IPTV, connected media player and HDTVs.
The IPTV market consists of consumer and commercial products that receive and distribute streaming video using IP. IPTV is emerging as an important consumer multimedia application as it allows telecommunications carriers to deliver advanced video services to consumers using existing telecommunications infrastructure. These carriers are actively pursuing the deployment of IPTV because it enables them to offer attractive video, voice and data, or triple play, services and increase their revenue per subscriber. The key challenge faced in delivering high-quality video content to end users across existing copper-based telecommunications infrastructure is limited bandwidth. This challenge is addressed by advancing video compression technologies along with advancing high speed communication technologies, which together bridge the gap required to deliver home high definition video service throughout the home. Currently, IPTV set-top boxes use one of two platforms based on software developed by either Microsoft or various Linux providers, each of which offers certain advantages and disadvantages.
The connected media player market consists of Blu-ray players, digital media adapters and portable players. Now that the Blu-ray format has become the standard technology used for high definition DVD players, Blu-ray DVD players are becoming increasingly popular among consumers. This is driven primarily by the superior video and audio quality they provide relative to standard definition DVD players, the increasing availability of high definition prerecorded content, the proliferation of HDTVs enabling display of this content and the steadily declining prices of the Blu-ray DVD players and the HDTVs themselves. We believe the demand for digital media adapters is continuing to gradually increase as these products are becoming easier for consumers to use and increased bandwidth within homes facilitates movie downloading. Portable players remain popular in selected foreign markets, but have yet to gain popularity in the U.S.
The proliferation of HDTVs is being driven by consumer demand for higher quality video, increasing availability of higher definition content, improved television displays, declining prices and various mandates to shift from analog to digital broadcast worldwide. This is creating an opportunity for SoC suppliers to provide technology that enables consumers to enjoy multi-format content on their HDTVs, including content from the Internet, stored video sources and Blu-ray players.
In addition to the growing popularity of HDTVs with consumers, we believe demand for improved video image processing continues to increase from both industrial customers and consumers focused on high-end products, or prosumers. These industrial and prosumer customers are increasingly expecting high-definition content that looks perfect, DVD content that looks like high-definition, and online content that looks as enjoyable as possible. As a result, we believe standalone and integrated video image processors are likely to be incorporated into an increasing number of video-centric products over time.
As consumers begin to demand more from their viewing experience, we believe the ability to deliver these technologies within the home will be critical to a successful solution. Ultra-wideband technology is one of several competing wireless technologies designed to distribute high definition video and audio throughout the home. We believe eventually that consumers will demand wireless functionality for high-end applications, such as high definition content made available to essentially all locations within the home via high speed two-way communications.
The home control and automation market continues to experience increasing consumer awareness and adoption, although current worldwide penetration rates remain low. Much of the early adoption for this technology has come from usage in new home construction. We believe potential deployment by an increasing number of larger system integrators and service providers in the future could drive a broader cycle of adoption. The functionality provided by the low frequency, low power solutions in this market can offer consumers cost efficient ways to monitor and conserve energy usage, protect homes from theft and damage and improve the convenience of performing certain household activities.
The consumer multimedia entertainment applications that we target increasingly require video and audio data to be processed, transmitted, stored and displayed in an efficient and secure manner, while simultaneously maintaining high resolution, multi-channel video and audio and providing the end-user a variety of interactive options. In order to provide this increased functionality in a cost-effective manner, manufacturers of consumer electronics demand semiconductors that integrate more features on a single chip, as well as reduce their costs, time-to-market and power consumption. We believe the challenge to manufacturers of digital media processor SoCs is to balance the integration of more functionality with lower costs and shorter development cycles.
We provide SoC solutions that consist of highly integrated semiconductors and a rich suite of software that enables real-time processing of digital video and audio content, which we refer to as real-time software. Our real-time software is readily customizable by our customers and is interoperable with multiple standard operating systems. As a result, we believe our SoC solutions enable consumer multimedia devices to be quickly brought to market. We believe IPTV set-top box and connected media player designers and consumer device manufacturers select our SoC solutions because of the compelling nature of their performance and ease of integration. Our highly integrated products have replaced a number of single function semiconductors with a multi-function SoC, which significantly improves performance and lowers power consumption and cost.
We believe our SoCs have been able to deliver industry-leading performance in video decoding, graphics acceleration and audio decoding, which allows our customers to offer consumers a high-quality viewing experience. We surround this media processing functionality with a robust security management solution, an on-chip CPU, a high-speed memory interface and complementary system peripherals. Our VXP line of video image processors complements this core capability with studio-quality video. Currently, these devices can be used by our customers as either stand alone products or in combination with products that we sell into our other target markets, such as our SoCs for IPTV, connected media players and HDTV. We plan to integrate our VXP technology into our other SoCs designed primarily for other target markets. This SoC architecture with memory components establishes a complete hardware development platform for our target applications. We also offer a suite of real-time software that reduces the complexity of our SoC architecture and enables our customers to quickly design consumer multimedia devices. Our software includes an industry standard operating system, embedded software tools and development kits that enable our customers to easily port their software to run on our processors.
Our UWB products are designed to provide connectivity solutions between high definition video and audio sources, respectively, and HDTVs and speakers. We believe these connectivity solutions give consumers additional connection choices with greater flexibility, and allow system integrators and service providers an opportunity to reduce their time and cost of home networking installations. Our Z-Wave products are designed to offer consumers advanced automation and control functionality, such as energy management, security and environmental monitoring, within new and existing homes.
We have internally developed the core technologies, expertise and capabilities necessary to provide a complete digital media processing SoC solution. We believe we have the following strengths:
Strong Position within IPTV and Connected Media Player Markets. We believe we are the leading provider of digital media processor SoCs for set-top boxes in the IPTV market and a high quality provider of such SoCs in the connected media player market, in terms of units shipped. For set-top boxes in the IPTV market, we believe we are currently the only provider qualified to ship digital media processing solutions based on the Microsoft IPTV platform. We have built this position, in part, by being one of the first multimedia processing semiconductor providers to work extensively with IPTV set-top box manufacturers as well as telecommunications carriers to design solutions that address their specific feature and performance requirements. Through this process, we have gained valuable insight into the challenges of our customers and such carriers and have gained visibility into their product development plans. As a result, we believe we are able to provide our customers with a stable and reliable source of field-proven digital media processing solutions that our competitors cannot easily replicate.
Highly Integrated SoC Leveraged Across Multiple Consumer Applications. We have developed a proprietary SoC architecture that allows us to integrate high-performance digital video and audio decoding and graphics processing with security management, memory control, a CPU and complementary peripheral interfaces. Our SoCs can replace a number of single function semiconductors, which significantly improves performance and lowers power consumption and cost to our customers. Furthermore, all of these functions can be performed synchronously at high processing speeds, typically up to 200 Megahertz. Our ability to integrate these multiple functions into a single, high-speed semiconductor allows us to satisfy many different consumer multimedia entertainment applications with the same hardware platform.
Differentiated Software Development Capabilities. As a result of our 15 years of experience in delivering video and audio solutions, we have developed expertise in real-time software that synchronizes and controls the playback of video and audio from a variety of sources. This software translates the complex silicon architecture of our SoCs into a much simpler application programming interface. Using this interface, our customers are able to program under industry standard operating systems, enabling them to easily customize our solutions and reduce their time to market. The majority of our engineering personnel are dedicated to software development.
Multi-Standard Functionality. Our SoC solutions are designed to support multiple industry standards that are used in the consumer applications we target. For example, there are over a dozen different video and audio standards used in current consumer applications, including video standards, such as H.264, MPEG-4, MPEG-2, MPEG-1 and WMV9, and audio standards, such as Dolby, DTS and MP3. Beyond this, there are a range of digital rights management security standards such as AES, RSA and MSDRM. Additionally, there are two primary operating systems, Microsoft Windows CE and Linux, that each has its own middleware standards. We support all of these standards.
Breadth and Depth of Relationships within the IPTV Ecosystem. In order to provide a complete system-level solution for the IPTV market, we have developed strong relationships with industry leaders that form the ecosystem required to deliver an end-to-end solution, from content creation to content display. The IPTV ecosystem consists of providers of middleware, encoders and security solutions. For middleware and server software, interoperability with products provided by Alcatel, Microsoft and Siemens, among others, is required. For encoders, providers such as Harmonic, Tandberg and Modulus Video (now part of Motorola) must design products that operate compatibly with digital media processors such as ours. For security solutions, there are also a range of providers, including Microsoft, Nagra and NDS. Our strong position in the IPTV market has enabled us to develop and maintain relationships with these providers and offer solutions that are interoperable with their products.
Our objective is to be the leading provider of digital media processing SoCs for multiple consumer applications. To achieve this objective, we expect to continue to pursue the following strategies:
Extend our Leadership Position in the IPTV Market. We have achieved a significant share in the IPTV market by providing our customers with highly integrated digital media processor SoCs that are readily customizable. In addition, our solutions work effectively across different platforms and standards in this market. Furthermore, we intend to target some of the largest cable Multiple System Operators as a part of their anticipated technology transition to tru2way and IPTV delivery. Tru2way is a trademark of CableLabs, which is used to describe the delivery of interactive digital cable services over the cable video network. We intend to provide the most compelling integrated digital media processing solutions to our customers and support multiple standards in this end market in order to maintain our high market share in the IPTV market as well as extend our product strengths into the next generation of set top boxes for the cable industry.
Enhance our Software Development Advantage. We believe our software provides a suite of capabilities that are not currently available from our competitors. Our software is integrated and embedded into our customers' products during their product design stage. As a result, once we are designed into our customers' product, we believe it is difficult for our competitors to displace us. We intend to leverage our software development capabilities and continue to invest significant resources in recruiting and developing additional expertise in the area of high-performance software development.
Increase Penetration in HDTVs. We have successfully penetrated high-end HDTVs that, as a key feature, enable Internet connectivity and wired or wireless networking with media centers and other consumer electronics devices. Our SoC solutions incorporate software that enables the interoperability of HDTVs with standards such as Intel's Viiv, Microsoft's Media Center Extender and the Digital Living Network Alliance. We believe our software, which fully supports the various standards and technologies required to provide Internet connectivity and networking functionality, differentiates us from our competitors. We intend to leverage our semiconductor and software expertise to develop additional SoC solutions targeted specifically towards HDTVs such that we are able to increase our penetration in the HDTV market as a whole.
Expand into Complementary Technologies and Products. We will continue to evaluate opportunities to expand, whether through acquisition or internal development, into technologies and products that are complementary to the applications we target. In December 2008, we acquired Zensys Holdings Corporation, a privately held company that developed the Z-wave brand of RF devices that have demonstrated significant penetration into the home control market. We believe that the Z-wave home control products will enable us to offer another layer to our value proposition to telecommunications and cable operators, thus helping us to differentiate our complete solution as competition in the marketplace increases. In February 2008, we acquired certain assets of the VXP Group from Gennum Corporation. We intend to leverage the VXP image processing technology and skilled VXP design team to expand into the professional video market and add broadcast studio quality capability to our product offerings for high-volume consumer applications in set-top boxes for IPTV, connected media player and HDTVs. In 2006, we acquired Blue7, a developer of advanced UWB technologies, in order to extend our product offerings into wireless solutions for the home entertainment environment. We believe that the combination of wireless communication technologies with our existing media processing SoC solutions will enable us to increase the value we deliver to our customers.
Leverage Existing Partner and Customer Relationships. We have developed partnerships with standards and platform defining entities like Microsoft, which enable us to win new customers effectively. We also have strong customer relationships with many IPTV set-top box and connected media player designers and consumer device manufacturers. We also work closely with telecommunications carriers to understand their needs in advance of our customer’s product development cycle. We intend to leverage our existing position with our partners and customers to identify and secure new market opportunities.