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NDS picks ARM as the basis for its Infinite TV core

For some time now we have been asking set top makers, and especially those who need an operating system like Android, why they are not working on an A

By PETER WHITE

Published: 6 January, 2011

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For some time now we have been asking set top makers, and especially those who need an operating system like Android, why they are not working on an ARM based processor. It turns out that conditional access multinational NDS, unlike Google itself, which has supported the creation of Google TV on an Intel chip, agrees with us.

NDS has now put its own Infinite TV software on the ARM 9 Cortex backed up by the ARM Mali GPU design. Effectively ARM cannot really partner with any single supplier, because it is an arms dealer (excuse the pun) but sometimes it needs one supplier to go ahead and show something is possible using the ARM architecture.

Right now in set tops there is a processing power war on between Intel CE 4100 chips based around its Atom processor against the established might of Broadcom with its MIPS based SoC designs, not to mention the offerings of Sigma, STMicro and Texas Instruments. But new ARM multi core offerings designed as much with the Tablet in mind as the set top, could double and quadruple up to deliver the same kind of processing power as any of these others, and use a whole lot less electric power. NDS and ARM will showcase all these ideas at CES this week.

NDS InfiniteTV is all about delivering video and enabling, in particular, targeted free to air advertising to pay for the content. The targeted advertising can work across multiple devices, which NDS thinks of as set tops, PCs, personal media players and tablets. If you are going to have a single architecture across all of those devices, the OS is likely to be Android and the processing core almost certainly has to be ARM – everything else is too power hungry.

The Infinite system operates using what NDS calls ‘intelligent decisions, recording subscriber interests in a particular TV series and storing subsequent episodes, at times of day when your particular device or network is not overloaded. It’s quite an intelligent concept and it leaves the decision about what type of network – broadcast or broadband – to operators, to deliver content to a device. Targeted advertising works in the same way and advertising can be downloaded ahead of time to a device to show when appropriate content is shown – with everything from standard banners to rich media formats and trick play advertising modes for DVRs – all selected on relevancy to the viewer, and all with audience measurement built in.

The way Infinite TV works is that users enter the portal, register themselves and their devices, and provide some preferences and demographic data, which includes choosing programs, search terms and genres. The system keeps playlists updated and refreshed with premium targeted content and advertising. The idea is for TV makers to take a ready-made set of OTT TV applications on a variety of ARM powered devices.

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