STMicroelectronics’ STi7710 is an integrated single-chip solution that targets designers of high definition STBs (Set-top Boxes).
The new IC combines the functions of ST’s STi7020 HDTV (High Definition TV) decoder IC, and the STi5517 Omega decoder – as well as additional features such as Hi-Speed USB and a High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection (HDCP) processor.
The HDCP processor secures the digital interface to an HDCP-enabled TV set and protects the high-quality, high-value intellectual property (IP) of program producers by authenticating and monitoring decryption keys. The HDCP specification provides a method of transmitting encrypted digital entertainment content to DVI-compliant digital displays, without compromising the convenience for the viewer of legitimate copying or timeshifting.
The STi7710 provides both the Digital Video Interface (DVI) and the High Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) and offers improved audio capability at low bit rates through an embedded Advanced Audio Coding (AAC) decoder.
The chip also includes SRS TruSurround XT, an advanced audio technology from SRS Labs which delivers cinema-quality virtual surround sound over two-speaker television or entertainment systems, and other audio features.
An embedded Hi-Speed USB Host – operating at 480-Mbits/sec, 40-times faster than the USB 1.1 standard – will allow peripherals to be added easily to a basic STB in order to provide additional functionality. In particular, it could allow a consumer to purchase the STB and add a hard-disk drive at a later date to turn the box into a Digital Video Recorder (DVR). Other peripherals that could be connected to a set-top box through the USB interface, using suitable drivers, include digital cameras, printers, and memory cards.
ST offers a complete software solution for US high-definition markets, where provision of specific features – including Closed Captioning (to EIA-708-B) and the Program and System Information Protocol (PSIP) – is mandated by the FCC.
STB manufacturers can choose to license software from ST or from alternative suppliers. Software porting from earlier products is simplified by the STAPI software package, a fully supported and documented programming interface developed by ST as a stable base on which to build applications. It will continue to be available on future chipsets, enabling software portability to next generation devices.
Samples of the STi7710 are available now, and volume production is planned for Q1 2005 at an anticipated high volume price of $18.