A Shelton-based company rolled the dice last week in Las Vegas to call attention to new technology it says is going to revolutionize how computers and televisions work around the world through a high-tech solution to a low-tech but costly problem: cables that aren't up to the ever-evolving video standards.
TranSwitch Corp. unveiled its HDWire interface panel just days before the opening of the 2012 International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, just in time to set up a private suite and spend a busy four days talking to potential customers and media about the cable that is optimized for next-generation LCD/LED panels.
Amir Bar-Niv, senior vice president and general manager of the high-speed interconnect business for TranSwitch, said the company's HDWire uses a low-cost cable made in China. The HDWire panel interface — the secret sauce of the product — reduces the number of wires needed (up to 12 for the highest resolution monitors) down to one.
TranSwitch provided research on why this is a significant market to tap into. It said DisplaySearch, in its quarterly TV design and feature report, estimated that about 240 million digital TVs and 270 million computer monitors will be shipped by 2014, mostly based on low-voltage differential signaling (LVDS) technology. LVDS is the current standard for information traveling over the cables in your television. It's how the information is transferred from the processor in your TV to the screen. But the current cables — which look like wide ribbons — have limited capacity. The new processor from TranSwitch allows one cable to handle the demand that takes four ribbons now.
That's important because the new generation flat-panel TVs is expected to offer resolutions of 4K x 2K, which is four times better than the current 1080p. Industry experts say the new generation will be shipped in high volume beginning in the second quarter of 2012. It is estimated that the market for high-definition panel interface solutions will exceed $250 million annually by 2014.
Bar-Niv explained the technology during a tour of TranSwitch's private suite at the Las Vegas Hilton, adjacent to the Las Vegas Convention Center. It was a quiet space compared to the convention floor, covering more than 1.8 million square feet of exhibition space with an estimated 140,000 visitors expected over the course of four days.
TranSwitch took the expensive move to a private suite, available by appointment only, because it found most people on the show floor are interested in only one thing: handouts. "Ninety percent of the traffic is people who want to collect free gifts; eight percent is competitors; and 2 percent is customers," Bar-Niv said. There's the added advantage of competing customers meeting up at the same time. "It's a calmer setting," he added.
Also at the show, TranSwitch was displaying its patented High Definition Play technology that enables electronics devices with HDMI ports to now connect with those using DisplayPort because HDP can work seamlessly with each. HDP allows for the various inputs to work on one monitor without having to constantly be switching cables. It eliminates the need for expensive, active converter cables. It lets consumers view high quality video from their notebook PCs, tablets and smart phones on high definition televisions using a simple passive cable.
The cable the company buys from China reduces manufacturing costs but it wouldn't work without the panel that will be installed in television sets and computer monitors. The single cable also replaces up to 12 low-voltage differential signaling (LVDS) cables at a cost of more than $2 each. That adds up when spread among millions of units being produced.
There's also the advantage of a simpler manufacturing process coupled with reduced electromagnetic interference and lower power consumption. The LVDS cables also operate in only one direction while the HDWire panel allows a cable to send information back and forth from the monitor to the processing unit, as might be required on touch screen interfaces.
"That technology is going to be very important for the company. We see a lot of interest in this technology," said Bar-Niv.
Success with the HDWire panel comes at a crucial time for TranSwitch. Bar-Niv said the company, which is traded on NASDAQ (TXCC), had $50 million in revenue in 2010. Final figures for 2011 haven't been compiled for public release but the figures are down because of a drop in revenue at the telecomm division of TranSwitch.
"Now that the HIS is going, we're becoming a bigger part of the company," Bar-Niv said, with a prediction that it will improve the company's overall revenues in 2012.
M. Ali Khatibzadeh has been president and CEO of TranSwitch since October 2009. The company, founded in 1988, in 2000 had a valuation of $1 billion, according to Bar-Niv, but that valuation dropped after the telecomm bust. TranSwitch has about 225 employees at locations through the United States and around the world.
One thing TranSwitch does not have is a manufacturing facility for the chips used in its products. "We are designing the chips but we are manufacturing them in Taiwan," Bar-Niv said, explaining it would be prohibitively expensive for the TranSwitch to make its own chips with a $1 billion investment required to build a facility and then $500 million annually to run it.