Systems-on-a-chip helps set-top box developers

In February, IBM disclosed that it had combined PowerPC processors and other television set-top box (STB) components onto a single “”system-on-a-chip”” that will allow STB designers to add new capabilities for electronic program guides, Web browsing, and

In February, IBM disclosed that it had combined PowerPC processors and other television set-top box (STB) components onto a single “system-on-a-chip” that will allow STB designers to add new capabilities for electronic program guides, Web browsing, and interactive applications such as home banking, e-commerce, and information retrieval.

The three new “system-on-a-chip” solutions are based on either the IBM PowerPC 405 or PowerPC 401 processor and simplify STB design by integrating other STB subsystems onto a single chip. These include an MPEG-2 audio/video decoder, a memory interface subsystem, and a wide range of peripheral interfaces. The STB032xx and the STB034xx chips are based on the PowerPC 405 and feature high-speed operation at 108MHz or 162MHz, with a 16-KB instruction cache and an 8-KB data cache.

The STB034xx solution with the PowerPC 405 processor gives developers additional performance and programmability for new applications. For traditional applications, the STB021xx chip is based on the PowerPC 401 and features operation at 54MHz.

In addition to the STB PowerPC solutions, IBM has introduced a companion audio/video/transport decoder chip that enables a range of emerging applications, including dual channel (picture-in-picture) platforms and digital video recording.

Customer samples of the STB PowerPC 405 “system-on-a-chip” solutions – and the companion audio/video/transport decoder – are available now, with production volumes available in July. The new PowerPC 401 STB solutions are planned for the second half of 2000.

Meanwhile, here in London, at last month’s Mediacast Trade Show, C-Cube Microsystems disclosed that Motorola has integrated C-Cube’s silicon solution into interactive digital set-top boxes that have already begun shipping to European broadband network operators.

The set-top deployment is part of a network upgrade to two-way communications that will enable cable operators to give subscribers integrated video, telephony and the Internet over the Motorola system and set-top boxes.

Delivery of Motorola’s DVi-5000+ DVB-compliant set-tops began in the first quarter of 2000. C-Cube’s AViA TV silicon, a key component of the digital set-top terminals, will provide MPEG-2 audio-video demultiplexing and decoding that includes advanced audio DSP to decode multiple formats including Dolby Digital and MPEG-2 audio for a complete set-top box `home-theatre experience’.

The AViA tv chipset delivers MPEG-2 audio-video decoding and demultiplexing, Integrated Media Access Controller (MAC) for two-way networking that allows cable providers to offer interactive services, Flicker Filter technology for dramatically improved picture quality of Web pages displayed on television, an embedded CPU for quick rendering of Web pages on TV and DES and DVB descrambling to support multiple conditional access systems.

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