H.264 is a video-encoding format, noted for offering more compression than MPEG-2 and other earlier formats; it is part of both the Blu-ray Disc and HD DVD next-gen optical disc specifications, hence the importance of it for modern consumer electronics.
Fujistu's chip, the MB86H51 is designed solely to convert video content back and forth from H.264 at a rate of up to 20Mbps. It has 32MB of on-board memory and runs at a speed of 27MHz - though it consumes a mere 750mW when encoding 1080i HD images.
Still, the part has its limits: it will work with interlaced 1080i images at 50 and 60 fields per second, but it's not (officially) capable of churning through progressive, frame-by-frame 1080p pictures, considered by many to be the true 'full' HD resolution. And while it will handle an array of common digital audio standards, it will only decide two-channel, stereo soundtracks.
Fujitsuís new chip will enable high quality video recording, playback, and in a wide range of consumer electronics such as camcorders, DVRs and home network devices. Sample shipments will start from July 1, 2007.