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RDK Unveils Latest Iteration of Its Open-Source Software Stack for Pay TV Set-Tops, RDK4

Skyworth
(Image credit: Skyworth)

Cable industry technology consortium RDK Management has released the latest version of its open-sourced software stack for pay TV set-tops and other customer premises equipment, RDK4.

Reference Design Kit (RDK) is an open-sourced software stack jointly created by Comcast, Liberty Global and other telecom and technology companies, for set-tops, gateways and other devices. 

RDK4 makes it easier for companies to develop and deploy TV applications, independent of their RDK expertise or experience, the consortium said. 

“RDK4 is the culmination of joint development between the RDK community and leading app companies,” said Steve Heeb, president of RDK, which oversees the open-sourced software’s development. “Our newest software release makes it even easier to develop, test, and deploy video apps across set-top boxes. And the new modular plug-in architecture makes it simpler to implement specific technical features or services, based on the individual needs of service providers.

RDK4 creates new nomenclature for layers within the software stack. 

Notably, at the top layer of RDK4 is the Firebolt application platform. Firebolt provides a common way of supporting Lightning, HTML5, and native streaming apps within RDK. For example, Firebolt exposes common interfaces such as video playback, DRM, graphics and video security enabling each app provider to integrate their app to the RDK in a consistent way. Firebolt works with a wide variety of DRMs and SoC video security integrations, and includes a full-featured WPE WebKit browser.

Beneath RDK Firebolt is an architectural communication layer, or modular microservices layer, called Thunder, used for app life cycle management that facilitates communication between Firebolt and RDK core components. RDK core components are used by operators to help manage essential video functions, including video tuning, diagnostics, telemetry and operator-specific requirements, such as DVB, Wi-Fi management, and others.  

RDK4 is also available as part of the RDK Video Accelerator program, which provides “development and deployment-ready set-top boxes” from OEMs and chipset suppliers including CommScope, Humax, KAON, Skyworth, Broadcom and Amlogic. These set-top boxes come pre-integrated with RDK4, as well as the Metrological App Store, RDK’s answer to the Google Play component found in the rival Android TV platform.