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Broadcom's New Bluetooth Chips Enable Stereo Headsets with Voice Recognition Capability

This week at the 2011 Mobile World Congress, communications semiconductor supplier Broadcom (News - Alert) Corp., revealed a new family of Bluetooth system-on-a-chip (SoC) solutions targeting stereo headsets. Combining the ability to enjoy streamed stereo music with traditional Bluetooth hands-free phone call capabilities, the new chip family also incorporates Broadcom's leading suite of SmartAudio technology for clear and quality headset conversation. 

Utilizing low-power 65 nm CMOS design, the BCM2077x family includes three Bluetooth chips to enable entry-level, mainstream and high-end stereo headsets. Broadcom claims that it is the industry's first stereo Bluetooth SoC solution designed in the 65 nm CMOS manufacturing process. Also, the new BCM2077x family delivers these capabilities with the lowest power consumption to ensure longer battery life, said Broadcom.

Few highlights of the BCM2077x Bluetooth family include ROM-based solution that eliminates the need for costly and bulky external memory components to enable more compact, cost-effective designs, far-end echo and noise cancellation that significantly improves “double-talk” performance to deliver clearer conversations, built-in voice-recognition technology that allows device makers to include support for spoken commands that enhance the user experience, and near-end speech intelligibility enhancement that automatically enhances the quality and loudness for the wearer of the headset.

In addition, the new Bluetooth family features integrated multiple language voice prompts (in on-chip ROM) that increases ease-of-use and lowers bill-of-materials (BOM) cost, integrated “fast-charging” power management unit (PMU) that is capable of recharging the headset in only a few minutes, and highly tunable audio algorithms that enable further differentiation and a unique capability to adapt to various form factors.

The BCM2077x family comprises three chips targeting different tiers of headsets. While the BCM20770 is optimized for entry-level headsets and provides a basic suite of features and audio enhancements, the BCM20771 is tailored for single-microphone mainstream headsets and features more advanced SmartAudio capabilities to deliver a higher level of audio clarity for both ends of the cellular conversation. Likewise, BCM20772 is designed for high-end headsets and includes Broadcom's complete SmartAudio implementation with support for dual-microphone headsets that deliver the highest level of mono audio quality while also delivering the best stereo signal to noise ration in its class.

Broadcom's SmartAudio technology intelligently analyzes digital audio streams within the Bluetooth hands-free device and differentiates between voice and non-voice characteristics while eliminating background noise to deliver a clearer and distortion-free conversation. Special wind-noise reduction technology can distinguish and significantly reduce this annoying audio interference for clearer and more intelligible conversations.

Designed in a very small chip package, the BCM2077x family enables innovative industrial designs that includes behind the ear and pendant headsets that are comfortable and easy to wear.

Ashok Bindra is a veteran writer and editor with more than 25 years of editorial experience covering RF/wireless technologies, semiconductors and power electronics. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Tammy Wolf

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