At CableLabs Winter Conference, Broadcom announced a few new products.
The BCM7435 (Dual Transcoding MoCA 2.0 Gateway) is, in some ways, designed to refute Intel Atoms' entry (CE4x00 line - CE4100/SodaVille and CE4200/Groveland ) into the set-top box market by providing significant computing power to operators. These products are shipping today. In some cases, it is hard to imagine how consumers (and operators) will leverage the full performance of the gateway solution. Specifically:
Support for 22 simultaneous video streams: This is a mix of QAM and IP streams, HD and SD. Some streams would simply be routed to other set-top boxes, while some will be transcrypted from a native CAS to DLNA link protection, and some could be fully transcoded.
Support to transcode up to four HD streams (720p30) – designed to support the growth of tablets in-home.
Other changes are easier to see the immediate benefit to operators and consumers:
Providing hardware protected kernel space and therefore allowing users to run apps and/or OTT content in a way which does not compromise the boxes security.
7000 DMIPS of CPU performance (2 dual-threaded CPUs) with a dual core GPU on the one hand seems to be more than operators require today, but within what they may need during the 7-10 year lifecycle of gateway boxes operators are planning to deploy. Specifically, a single instance of a 3D user interface will not require this class of horsepower (they typically leverage the GPU), and DLNA stacks are typically not heavily compute intensive. However, the promise of a gateway device is that it standardizes the operators experience in the home – implying it could run a web server with HTML5 guides, or other forms of remote user interface (RUI) for other connected TVs or game consoles in the home to connect to the service provider video services.
Slightly less disruptive, but still interesting, the new BCM7574 is a new HD DTA SoC solution which reduces the cost of HD DTA’s and brings in a handful of new features:
Up to a 2X boost in CPU, GPU and audio processing – enabling new applications and better user interfaces to run on the device.
100 mW standby mode, supporting new Energy Star 4.0 requirements.
Fast Channel Changes occurring via end-to-end optimizations
Universal HD DTA security for all North American technologies (notably Cisco, Motorola, Nagra)
We understand the FCC has recently extended separable CAS (CableCard) waivers to DTAs which support a guide, but is not allowing advanced services, such a video on demand (VOD). This chip will have some market potential in the final stages of the digital cable transition within the US. However, it will have the most to offer should the FCC continue to relax its restrictions on delivery of advanced services over DTAs, as cable operators often want to give their customers the option of getting access to VOD and other two way services, even if the set-top box costs a bit more.