DOCSIS 3.1…In The Flesh

Las Vegas -- Amid all the new 4K TVs, connected wearables and other fancy gadgets, this year’s International CES has also served as a progress report of sorts for DOCSIS 3.1, cable’s next-gen IP platform that will be capable of delivering up to 10 Gbps downstream and as much as 2 Gbps in the upstream.

As we reported Tuesday, Broadcom used the show to introduce the first D3.1-based CPE reference design, dubbed the BCM93390.  I had a chance to drop by the Broadcom booth, and they did in fact have a living, breathing design that was kicking out about 4 Gbps in the downstream, tying it to a prototype FPGA-powered cable modem termination system (CMTS). 

And what you see here is just an initial design for OEM partners to follow as they develop the actual DOCSIS 3.1 modem and gateway products. Jay Kirchoff, VP of marketing for Broadcom's broadband and connectivity group, said the chipmaker will be working to shrink it down posthaste. Broadcom is sampling the design now, and is in verification for production for the second half of 2015.

And new D3.1 products will cost more than a DOCSIS 3.0 design – no surprise, since the initial wave of D3.1 products will be hybrids that support both DOCSIS 3.0 and DOCSIS 3.1 traffic, a decision that will help cable operators seed the network with D3.1 CPE as they migrate to the new platform.

As a reminder, CableLabs is expected to start official D3.1 certification  testing by mid-year. Some big operators, including Comcast and Liberty Global, are expected to move ahead with initial deployments in the second half of the year.

And Broadcom wasn’t the only silicon vendor getting its DOCSIS 3.1 on here at CES. STMicroelectronics  is also demonstrating its platform. A spokesman said the chipmaker has been demoing its wares with CMTSs from Arris and Cisco Systems, and confirmed that the company was one of six vendors that participated in last month’s CableLabs DOCSIS 3.1 plugfest.