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Broadcom monster set top chip designed to outmuscle Intel CE chip range

Broadcom has come out with a super powerful SoC designed to offer more power than the Intel CE chips, and act as the basis of a whole home DVR, and co

By PETER WHITE

Published: 16 December, 2010

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Broadcom has come out with a super powerful SoC designed to offer more power than the Intel CE chips, and act as the basis of a whole home DVR, and could potentially be used to fire up OTT services. The chip comes with MoCA and other support technologies, like DLNA, in-built.

When Broadcom first announced it would invade MoCA and then announced its first chip to spearhead that invasion, we all thought that the leading MoCA chip maker, Entropic, could be swept aside. But since that first device was really designed to power slightly dumb and cheaper set tops, which in turn might be connected to this type of central device using MoCA, it was a little before its time in terms of getting customer wins.

By IBC this September it still had no customer wins to announce with, Entropic and rivals suggesting that it was tougher to do than Broadcom had first thought.

But by bundling the MoCA capability into a set top chip, it was only a matter of time before Broadcom began to get major customer wins and started to eat away at the economics which have driven Entropic, and which have also attracted other major rivals to the “no new wires” video connectivity market place.

Now Broadcom has come out with a major new set top and media gateway chip at the top of its range, which is sure to pick up market share, and on this chip the MoCA capability is yet again bundled, but it is also aimed at the power levels of the Intel CE chips. Broadcom says that the BCM7422 has more than twice the processing horsepower of previous generations of set top SoCs, and it will to deliver full HD resolution 3DTV.

The chip has a 1.3-Gigahertz MIPs designed core processor, H.264 hardware accelerators to facilitate 1080p HD video and 3DTV. It also features 1 Gigapixel per second 3D graphics processing unit for advanced 3D graphics acceleration, plus MoCA, plus DLNA support. It is a set top makers wet dream by the sounds of it.

The idea is to deliver video content to multiple devices, and this looks like the heart of Broadcom’s video chip strategy, up there with the type of processing power that Intel CE4100 and 4200 bring to the party, but also with all the connectivity required to create top end multi-room DVRs, all built-in.

The new chip supports both types of 3D schemes, Scalable Video Coding (SVC) and Multiview Video Coding (MVC). MVC is the spec used in 3D Blu-ray Disc players, and uses two separate full HD streams. SVC has instead a second enhancement stream for the other-eye image, which uses 40% less bandwidth for 3D.

The chip will support up to eight external MPEG tuners, and it says it comes with the ability to terminate encrypted programming, so by that we assume that it has DTCP-IP decryption which is part of the DLNA standard to protect streams to other rooms in a multi-room DVR. It can also encapsulate broadcast video into IP, so it can tune stuff from cable or the airways and drop it into an IP connection. It can deliver multiple video streams to IP set-tops or other devices around the home.

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