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Motorola Next-Gen Transcoder IRD Ready For 'Full HD'

Motorola Mobility is bowing a new family of integrated receiver/decoders for TV distribution over satellite that can handle up to four 1080p high-definition MPEG-4 channels in one box -- to deliver "full HD" video -- while also providing automatic transcoding into MPEG-2 formats.

Discovery Communications among the first customers to deploy the new Motorola IRDs, as part of an eight-month project to migrate its five MPEG-2 HDs to the more-efficient MPEG-4 compression standard.

Motorola's DSR-6400 provides four different models, with support for single, dual, three or four channels. Each channel of the one-rack-unit-high IRDs can independently transcode the input MPEG-4 HD video service into simultaneous MPEG-2 standard-definition and HD video outputs, a critical feature for cable operators to support legacy MPEG-2 set-tops.

Programmers are starting to look at delivering HD services at 1080p 60 frames per second -- which provides Blu-ray-quality video -- as set-top box system-on-a-chip solutions that support 1080p are becoming available, said Mark Schaffer, director of product management for Motorola's Network Infrastructure Solutions group.

For 1080i HD services, the DSR-6400 improves encoding efficiency over previous its IRDs, Motorola claims, to be able to statmux four HDs into one 256-QAM channel (at a multiplex bit-rate of 38.8 Mbps) for delivery over digital cable -- without any loss of quality.

"The response from operators that have seen it has been amazingly good," Schaffer said. "They have matched up the video quality against state-of-the-art encoders."

To date, cable networks in North America and Latin America, including HBO and ESPN, have launched more than 100 HD MPEG-4 channels over satellite using the Motorola IRDs.

The DSR-6400 series also supports Active Format Descriptor (AFD) to downconvert HD services to SD with proper aspect ratio and resolution.

Schaffer declined to provide pricing details but said the DSR-6400 is "not a dramatic increase in pricing" over previous-generation IRDs.

Motorola plans to show off the DSR-6400 line at the 2012 NAB Show, April 16-19 in Las Vegas.

NAB also will mark the North American debut of Motorola's ST-6000 series transcoder, first announced at IBC 2011. The device is available in three-, six- and 12-channel configurations in a single 1RU platform -- providing up to 80% reduction in power consumption and up to 90% savings in headend space requirements versus single-channel transcoding solutions, Motorola claims.

The ST-6000 supports MPEG-2 and MPEG-4 SD and HD transcoding for satellite, cable, and IPTV applications. New features include independent audio transcoding to Dolby Pulse or HE-ACC and picture-in-picture (PIP) capability.

"As operators continue to shift from MPEG-2 to MPEG-4, especially in the world of IPTV, they would use the ST-6000 for channel consolidation," said Floyd Wagoner, director of product marketing for Motorola's Network Infrastructure Solutions.