Developers of the MP3 chip awarded innovation prize

Microelectronics International

ISSN: 1356-5362

Article publication date: 1 April 2000




(2000), "Developers of the MP3 chip awarded innovation prize", Microelectronics International, Vol. 17 No. 1.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2000, MCB UP Limited

Developers of the MP3 chip awarded innovation prize

Developers of the MP3 chip awarded innovation prize

Keyword: Micronas Intermetall

Dr Otto Witte, chip developer at the Freiburg microelectronics company Micronas intermetall, and Dipl.-Ing. Martin Dietz of the Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuitry in Erlangen have been awarded the Georg-Waeber Prize for Innovation, 1998. This prize is awarded annually for outstanding scientific achievements in the field of microelectronics, the Foerderkreis fuer die Mikroelektronik e.V. in Erlangen has acknowledged their contribution to the development of the first ISO/MPEG Layer 3 single-chip decoder.

Micronas decided at an early stage to develop a decoder chip for the now highly popular MP3 audio format in cooperation with the MP3 inventors at the Fraunhofer institute. while Dr Witte and his team at Micronas designed and built a suitable signal processor, Martin Dietz developed key parts of the software for this new chip. From early 1998 onwards, the availability of the MP3 decoder and the increasingly widespread acceptance of the MP3 standard (including, in modified form, in the WorldSpace digital satellite radio) opened the door to the development of completely new HiFi products. Portable MP3 players with no moving parts have been produced which store music in so-called flash RAMs (memory cells whose contents are non-volatile). CD players which can play back MP3 CDs containing around 12 hours of music have reached the market, too; MP3 decoders are now increasingly used in car radios, mobile telephones and wrist watches.

In his commendation address, Dr Dietrich Ernst, chairman of the Foerderkreis ruer die Mikroelektronik, described the achievement of the two engineers as a positive example of successful cooperation between science and industry. In his speech of thanks, Dr Witte emphasized the far-reaching nature of the project, whereby their cooperation had enabled a medium-sized European company such as Micronas to gain a leading position in a keenly contested market and to market its technology worldwide. Furthermore, the MP3 players represented the first completely new consumer electronics product for a long time to be successfully launched on the world market.

The Georg Waeber Prize for Innovation, which carries prize money of 6,000 DM, was inaugurated in 1995 by the Foerderkreis ruer die Mikroelektronik e.V. (Microelectronics Sponsorship Committee) in Erlangen, an association whose membership comprises research institutes, industrial and commercial companies, and the Nuremberg Chamber of Industry and Commerce. The association's sponsorship committee has the brief of actively promoting advances in microelectronics as a key technology for many sectors of the economy.

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