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Entropic, Novabase Stick It To The Set-Top

Las Vegas – International CES -- Joining a growing product movement, Novabase Digital TV Technologies and set-top silicon specialist Entropic Communications have jointly developed an HDMI-connected, IP-based set-top stick that can deliver secure broadcast video and over-the-top fare to the big screen.

The device, shown off here this week, receives content over 802.11n Wi-Fi, bakes in a Web browser, and is outfitted with the EN7589, a dual-core system-on-chip that Entropic developed specifically for the Portugal-based Novabase. They said it will be available in the first quarter.

The product follows a path blazed by retail devices such as the Google Chromecast, Sony Bravia Smart Stick, and the Roku Streaming Stick. Among examples on the service provider front, Alticast is working with an unnamed original equipment manufacturer on an HDMI stick that supports the Reference Design Kit, a software stack being managed and implemented by Comcast and Time Warner Cable. Netgear this week announced a stick that will initially support Android, with RDK on the roadmap.

Entropic, an RDK licensee, has not announced plans to productize an HDMI stick based on the RDK, but “it is easy for us to demonstrate RDK” on the device,” said Matt Rhodes, Entropic’s SVP of global marketing. “The roadmap is moving quickly. We think our technology can support the RDK in the HDMI form-factor. It’s not an issue of technical feasibility.”

He said Entropic is trying to differentiate itself with a stick that supports fully-secured decoding that “could work with an operator’s secured content. This gives operator a way to bring content to any form factor…and provide easy-of-use and connectivity around the home,” Rhodes said.

The Novabase/Entropic treaming stick was one of a slew of CES announcements from Entropic. Here’s a snapshot of other developments:

  • DirecTV has deployed Entropic’s digital Channel Stacking Switch technology in a new multi-switch from Wistron NeWeb. The combo allows DirecTV to service more rooms off a single-coaxial cable run in apartment buildings or commercial installations, the companies said. The new product is in “early stage trials” with multiple hotel chains in California.
  • Entropic released its first fully-integrated set-top box SoC family, the EN7300-series, for satellite receivers and IP client devices that ties in High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC), MoCA 2.0,  and dual DVB-S/S2 demodulators. Rhodes said Entropic has “several” design wins for the new series, but declined to identify them.
  • Entropic launched what it says is the first reference design for a MoCA 2.0 USB Bus-powered adapter. The new handiwork simplifies MoCA-based home networking for whole-home DVRs and other applications because it enables users to power the adapter via USB connections in a TV, set-top or gaming console, eschewing the need to plug it into a wall socket. MoCA 2.0, the latest generation of the spec, provides net throughputs of 400 Mbps in standard mode, and as much as 800 Mbps in “turbo mode.”