Broadcom is aiming to let cable operators deploy HD services to subscribers less expensively, while also giving them another tool to reclaim analog TV bandwidth.
The chip maker, here at the 2010 Consumer Electronics Show, debuted the BCM7572 system-on-a-chip, which supports high-definition video, a 1-GHz tuner and an HDMI interface in an "ultra-small" form factor.
Broadcom is positioning the SoC for digital terminal adapters (DTAs), which are low-cost, limited-function devices that can convert digital video to analog format. Comcast and other cable operators are giving DTAs to analog basic cable customers, which allows them to deliver most or all of their programming in digital form -- and then repurpose the analog spectrum for new services.
DTAs cost less in part because they don't use CableCards, which are required in operator-supplied set-tops under the Federal Communications Commission's integrated set-top ban. Last year, the commission granted waivers to the ban to several vendors for standard-definition DTAs.
The FCC may more broadly apply the exemption to HD DTAs. Evolution Broadband, for example, has requested a waiver to FCC's integrated security ban for a sub-$100 HD DTA.
With set-tops based on the chip set, operators can "cost effectively reclaim precious bandwidth while deploying more HD content and additional value-added services," said Dan Marotta, general manager of Broadcom's Broadband Communications Group.
Broadcom didn't announce pricing or expected price points of DTAs based on the BCM7572.
The BCM7572 provides a 1-GHZ silicon cable tuner that exceeds the SCTE-40 specification, according to Broadcom. It also integrates a QAM demodulator, a MIPS32-class processor, a data transport processor, a programmable audio core, four video and two audio digital-to-analog converters, and peripheral interfaces for a variety of set-top control/receiver functions.
The chip set has an integrated HDMI transmitter and HD MPEG2/AVC decoder and supports various conditional access security devices. It also features a reduced memory footprint and operates in "ultra-low" power modes, consuming less than 100 miliwatts in standby mode.
Broadcom's BCM7572 is now sampling to cable set-top box manufacturers.
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