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DVR Lite

Cable operators could deliver a low-cost set-top box that provides DVR-esque features — like pausing live TV — by using solid-state storage, instead of a hard disk.

That’s the pitch from NDS and SanDisk, a top provider of flash-based storage chips. At IBC in Amsterdam this week, the companies are showing off the NDS MediaHighway software in a set-top box with SanDisk’s P4 solid-state drives.

Without a spinning disk, “DVR lite” set-tops wouldn’t need a fan that’s required for regular DVRs. That could result in a smaller, quieter, more energy-efficient device with a footprint more like the new Apple TV or Roku set-tops (see Apple Takes Another Crack At The TV).

According to NDS and SanDisk, a small amount of SSD storage — like 4GB, 8GB or 16GB — is considerably cheaper than hard disk drives, which are typically available only in higher capacities. And such a device could enable not just pausing live TV, but also VOD delivered over a home network and advertising solutions like the DVR-based ad-swapping system NDS is demonstrating at IBC with BlackArrow (see BlackArrow, NDS Swap Out DVR Ads).

NDS has already integrated SanDisk solid-state disks for use with progressive download and live-pause technologies. The companies also noted that the SanDisk P4 SSD has an industry-standard SATA interface, which is the most common interface for hard disk drives used in DVRs.