STMicro Chips In for DOCSIS 3.1

STMicroelectronics officially tossed its hat into the DOCSIS 3.1 ring Tuesday with the unveiling of a chipset designed for an emerging platform that will deliver multi-gigabit speeds over HFC networks.

STMicro’s new D3.1-based chip, the STiD325 (codenamed “Barcelona”), is currently sampling with “lead customers.” The chipmaker, which will compete in the DOCSIS 3.1 CPE sector against Broadcom and Intel, has not announced any vendors that will use the STiD325 in broadband CPE products, but noted that it has participated in the CableLabs Acceptance Test Plan development committees and interoperability tests.

The company also stated that the Barcelona “early platform” operated successfully in what it called the world’s first end-to-end DOCSIS 3.1 field test conducted earlier this year. STMicro didn’t go into further detail, but Comcast has been conducting field trials of DOCSIS 3.1-based traffic, and revealed last month that it expects to follow with a market trial in the fourth quarter of 2015.

STMicro, which is demonstrating its new cable broadband tech at this week’s CableLabs Summer Conference in Keystone, Colo., said the STiD325 is for a wide range of broadband CPE products, including stand-alone cable modems, embedded media terminal adapters (which support cable  VoIP), as well as video gateways. Barcelona also supports RDK-B, a version of the Reference Design Kit software stack that’s made to work with broadband devices and set-top boxes. Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Liberty Global are managing the RDK.

STMicro’s Barcelona chipset will be a hybrid in the sense that it will support both DOCSIS 3.0 and DOCSIS 3.1 traffic. On the D3.1 side, it will handle two blocks of 196 MHz-wide OFDM downstream spectrum, and two 96 MHz-wide OFDM-A upstream channel blocks; on the D3.0 end, the chipset will support 32 single-carrier QAM downstream channels and 8 upstream QAM channels. While DOCSIS 3.1 is designed for capacities of up to 10 Gbps downstream and at least 1 Gbps upstream, the initial wave of D3 .1 modems will support about 5 Gbps/1Gbps when fully loaded.

"Prepared to be among the first commercial DOCSIS 3.1 deployments, our innovative platform architecture supports our ambition to make Barcelona a reference in the Cable industry," said Philippe Notton, group vice president and general manager of STMicroelectronics' Consumer Product Division, in a statement. "As a standalone for multi-gigabit cable gateways or combined with our Monaco SoC for an UltraHD media gateway, ST can offer complete solutions for fast design."