Cable Show 2012: Entropic Powers Comcast's HD Skype Service

Entropic Communications is touting that it supplied the system-on-a-chip used in Technicolor's adapter for Comcast's Skye on Xfinity high-definition TV videoconferencing service, and also that it is integrating its silicon and software with Comcast Reference Design Kit for IP-based gateway devices.

The 45-nanometer SoC used in the Technicolor adapter was developed by Trident Microsystems, which Entropic acquired this year in a bankruptcy auction for $65 million.

Entropic's SoC includes the central processing unit and video processor, and Trident performed all the software integration with Skype, said Mark Samuel, senior vice president of Entropic's set-top box business unit.

"We're not just a component," Samuel said.

Last week Comcast began the nationwide rollout of the Skype on Xfinity service, $9.95 per month to triple-play subscribers, in 10 markets.

Comcast's Skype service delivers two-way video communications at up to 720p HD, to any Skype user in the world. The Technicolor adapter uses Entropic's ARM Cortex-A9 CPU (PNX8471) SoC solution, which acts as an HDMI pass-through that connects to the HD videoconference. The adapter includes an HDMI input and output, Gigabit Ethernet, Wi-Fi, RF4CE (Radio Frequency for Consumer Electronics) remote control, external USB and SD card slot, and an integrated external camera and microphone.

"We selected the Technicolor and Entropic solution because their joint vision and ability to execute proved valuable in allowing us to integrate new digital services, like videoconferencing, into our traditional service packages," Steve Reynolds, Comcast's senior vice president of customer premises technology, said in a statement.

Entropic also announced that its silicon and software will be integrated with the Comcast RDK, which provides a framework that enables device manufacturers to deploy new broadcast and IP-based solutions.

Entropic is developing a pre-integrated software bundle that will combine Entropic's single-core ARM Cortex-A9 (TSC184) and dual-core Cortex-A9 (TSC188) family of processors with its Multimedia over Coax (MoCA) connectivity silicon and software for IP clients.

"Entropic's IP-STB solution provides an ideal platform for RDK for manufacturers wanting to develop IP-client devices that connect to Comcast's whole-home video gateway and advanced DVR platform, over the in-home network," Reynolds said.

Broadcom and Intel are have developed solutions based on the Comcast RDK, but Entropic's is the first for the IP whole-home client, according to Samuel.

Finally, Entropic is expected to announce that it is shipping its MoCA 2.0 silicon and software solution, the first company to deliver MoCA 2.0 production silicon.

The MoCA 2.0 solution -- aimed at delivering multiroom HD DVR content throughout the home -- comprises MAC, PHY, analog, RF transceiver and RF front-end functionality. The chips deliver net throughput (MAC) rates of 400 Mbps over 16 nodes and 500 Mbps for two-node Turbo mode, and are backward-compatible with MoCA 1.1 and 1.0.