Broadcom Makes Its Case For The Single-Chip Set-Top Box

By Michael Singer

May 21, 2002

The company's next generation allows for digital video recording as well as voice, video and data services over Ethernet, 802.11b Wi-Fi wireless and HomePNA-over-Coax.

Chipmaker Broadcom Corporation (NASDAQ:BRCM) Tuesday took the wraps off a its next generation, single-chip combined cable TV set-top box/cable modem and satellite solution.

The company is heralding its newest multiprocessor - the Broadcom BCM7110 system-on-a-chip for cable modems - as the answer to personal video recording (PVR) makers who want to incorporate advanced interactive TV (iTV) functions and broadband Internet access through the same device. Broadcom also launched its BCM7315 for Direct Broadcast Satellite (DBS) set-top boxes.

The BCM7110 chip is priced at $75.00 in 10,000 quantities. The BCM7315 is priced at $50.00 in 10,000 quantities.

At an industry show in London, the Irvine, Calif.-based company said its new chips provide a dedicated digital cable television channel as well as a DOCSIS (Data Over Cable System Interface Specification) 1.1 cable modem and both Direct Video Broadcast (DVB) and DirecTV standards.

The new chip also incorporates multiple features considered important for next generation digital cable set-top boxes, including PVR functions, a high performance MIPS processor, an advanced graphics engine and mixed-signal integration.

In addition to the cable modem/set-top box interfaces, the company said set-top boxes based on its BCM7110 make distribution of voice, video and data services possible throughout the home. The BCM7110 enables home networking through Ethernet, 802.11b Wi-Fi wireless, HomePNA-over-Coax, and various other options, allowing cable operators to expand their revenue generating services into the different areas of the household. The BCM7110 gateway box can also be combined with the Broadcom BCM1101 for a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) second voice line service.

"Broadcom's single-chip BCM7110 and Broadcom BCM7315 represent a significant milestone in the evolution of the interactive broadband set-top box," said Broadcom set-top box products Director of Marketing Brian Sprague. "Service providers can now add cable and satellite modem functionality to the most up-to-date set-top box functionality -- giving consumers the latest innovations at a low system cost."

Many of the fruits of the advancements of the next generation chips come directly from Broadcom's acquisition of Santa Clara, Calif.-based Mobilink for an estimated $190 million last month.

For broadband communications, the BCM7110 includes a complete DOCSIS 1.1 MAC (Media Access Controller) that supports quality of service (QoS) for broadband interactive services such as Voice over IP (VoIP) and video conferencing. The chip's dual tuner architecture allows for simultaneous viewing of Internet and video, or two independent program streams for watch and record PVR. The BCM7110 can also be configured to provide true watch and record and DOCSIS Internet browsing simultaneously with an external QAM demodulator.

The BCM7315 chip also integrates multiple new security features to defeat the growing problem of satellite television piracy. Featuring a one-time programmable memory block, an on-chip boot ROM and secure EJTAG debug functionality, the BCM7315 provides formidable impediments to satellite network hackers.

The chips also integrate transmission technology, MPEG-2 audio and video decoding, an advanced 2D/3D graphics engine, a USB host and device, an Ethernet MAC, an IDE controller for connection to disc drives, an IEEE 1394 interface, an OpenCable-compliant Point of Deployment interface, V.90 soft modem support, and other peripherals that enable a reduced total system cost. In addition, Broadcom also provides software device drivers that support multiple operating systems and middleware.

For cable modems, Broadcom is making its BCM97110 reference design available for software development and quick time-to-market. Configured to perform watch-and-record (analog and digital supported), DOCSIS 1.1, and DAVIC all simultaneously, the BCM97110 can address the needs of virtually any cable network worldwide.

Broadcom is also making its BCM97315 reference design available for satellite development platform for set-tops based on the BCM7315. The reference design comes with complete software source code, schematics and Gerber files, and provides detailed design information for manufacturers of interactive cable TV set-top terminals.

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