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Nagra opens up CEA compliant route to CA on a MicroSD chip

The more new players talk about making conditional access a software only tool, the more conventional players such as Nagravision, brings down the Bil


Published: 14 April, 2011


The more new players talk about making conditional access a software only tool, the more conventional players such as Nagravision, brings down the Bill of Materials for adding chip based, hardware supported security and it’s done it once more being (we think) the first to bring a CEA 2040 compliant MicroSD chip to market.

The Consumer Electronics Association CEA 2040 standard was only ratified in February and consists of embedding a conditional access system, in exactly the same way as it is embedded in CableCard and CI Plus, but in a tiny microSD card.

A statement from Nagra says, “This new form factor is based on the same principles as the CableCard and CI Plus standards currently mandated for some premium TV applications; however the microSD card is approximately 50 times smaller and less than half the size of a mini SIM card. The current microSD card will support video streams up to 1080P Full HD resolution.”

So this is the way to put Conditional Access into a Tablet right? Err.. well not into an iPad. The Xoom and the HTC Flyer have microSD ports, and so does the original 7 inch Galaxy Tab, but the later Galaxy 10 inch and most other tablets including the iPad and iPad2, don’t support a port using that format.

Sure right now (see separate story) the issue is that content companies don’t want iPad Apps released which give away their content – they think this is a matter of rights and Time Warner Cable and Cablevision are being chastised by cable networks for doing so. But once the rights issue is resolved, then people are going to want to be sure that iPad apps are not a security weakness for pirates.

There are two schools of thought about how to manage this. You can either unravel the encryption in a set top and re-secure the content using DTCP-IP (mandated by DLNA) around the home on fixed lines or WiFi. This means that anything on your set top could be sent to any device which can offer a DTCP-IP client. The encryption is good enough but this currently needs a hardware chip in order to be endorsed by US Hollywood studios. The DLNA will not sanction software implementations of DTCP-IP. Nagra is offering another route, the same content already secure by a traditional conditional access system, can be served across the internet or from the set top, and this chip can be slid into the microSD port, to decrypt the stream.

If the other hardware based conventional conditional access companies like NDS and Irdeto don’t immediately jump on this we’d be surprised, because the desire out there among pay TV operators especially, to get commercial content to a tablet, is enormous.

The CEA-2040 standard specifies the interface between a consumer electronics device displaying or decoding video and a small removable, replaceable memory card module that embodies the Conditional Access System (CAS). Such a chip can go into a smart phone, tablets, a PC’s or, if need be, a connected TV although that’s more likely to have a CI Plus module or Cable Card.

“We are very excited to have our microSD card become CEA-compliant,” said Conor Ryan, Vice-President of Marketing at SmarDTV, “Following the widespread adoption of the CI Plus and CableCARD removable security devices this standardization is a major achievement that will benefit CE manufacturers and consumers alike and continue to pave the way for a more seamless television viewing on mobile and portable devices.”


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