Harmonic Aims IRD With Transcoding At MPEG-4 Shift

Harmonic is debuting its first integrated receiver-decoder that can transcode MPEG-4 AVC video streams into the older MPEG-2 format, a product designed to let programmers move to all-MPEG-4 distribution.

The company's ProView 7100 IRD provides transcoding, descrambling and MPEG stream processing for up to four transport streams in a single rack unit. Harmonic trails competitors including Motorola Mobility and Cisco Systems, which have offered IRDs with MPEG-4-to-MPEG-2 transcoding for several years.

"By adding powerful transcoding capabilities to the popular ProView platform, we're enabling broadcasters to streamline their operations and decrease operating costs," Harmonic vice president of product management Tom Lattie said in a statement.

In addition, Harmonic is pitching the IRD as letting operators deploy an all-IP headend in combination with the vendor's Flex decoder.

Video encoded in MPEG-4 requires roughly half the bandwidth as MPEG-2. But most set-top boxes currently deployed by cable operators are capable of decoding only MPEG-2.

The ProView 7100 IRD performs multiformat video decoding with up to four stereo pairs of audio decoding and can transcode up to eight channels for distribution in H.264 or MPEG-2 (four ASI and four IP streams) in standard-definition or HD up to 1080i at 30 frames per second. The ProView 7100's input options include DVB-S and DVB-S2, IP and ASI, and the IRD supports HD downconversion and aspect ratio adaptation.

The ProView platform is based on technology developed by Scopus Video Networks, which Harmonic acquired in 2009 for $50 million.

Harmonic did not announce pricing for the ProView 7100. Harmonic plans to demonstrate the new IRD at the 2012 NAB Show, April 16-19 in Las Vegas.