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Broadcom tuner core slashes power/price reaches entire cable spectrum

At the Cable Show this week Broadcom made great play out of the creation of its own in-house Full-Band Capture digital tuners, dropping the design int

By PETER WHITE

Published: 16 June, 2011

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At the Cable Show this week Broadcom made great play out of the creation of its own in-house Full-Band Capture digital tuners, dropping the design into three new SoCs, one new generation 400 mbps home gateway DOCSIS chip and two 40 nanometer hybrid cable multi-receiver set top chips.

The whole idea is to drop its own single tuner design into silicon which can take the device up and down the entire 1 GHz of cable bandwidth. Broadcom claims this is a first for an integrated tuner and from previous announcements we’ve covered it does appear that most DOCSIS modems use up to four separate chips which support different blocks of the cable spectrum. The resulting power and space improvement and BoM reduction should make these breakthrough SoCs. In Broadcom’s case this removes as many as 9 separate tuner components and it can support multiple parallel demodulations in real time.

There are no prices quoted, but Broadcom says this tuner design will accelerate the deployment of DOCSIS 3.0 cable gateways and hybrid IP cable STBs. Hybrid IP cable STBs will more efficiently bring additional video streams and IP services to connected devices in the home ecosystem and are expected to grow at 40% through 2014, the company said in a release. The new tuner alone will lead to a reduction of 50% in power requirements.

Broadcom said that when used with its FastRTV channel change technology it will make channel change on cable far faster. The FastRTV system tunes the neighboring channels up and down in readiness to zap to them.

The three components are the 8-QAM BCM3128 and 4-QAM BCM3124 cable modem SoCs and the 400 Mbps BCM3383 Euro/DOCSIS 3.0 cable gateway SoC.

The last of these is Broadcom’s third generation DOCSIS 3.0 SoC and has both 5 GHz and 2.4 GHz WiFi on board, and is now sampling to early access customers. It can support both DOCSIS 3.0 and Euro-DOCSIS. Broadcom says that the SoC is aimed at the gateway market and that the broadband gateway market is the fastest growing market segment in all cable CPE. The chip also comes with a custom applications processor, aimed at driving applications throughout the home.

The chip offers a 500 MHz multi-threaded processor so it can run apps without impacting voice and gateway performance.

Jay Kirchoff, Vice President of Marketing, Cable Broadband, Broadcom Corporation said, “Broadcom continues to innovate in the broadband gateway market, pioneering the use of FBC and introducing dual simultaneous Wi-Fi and a custom applications processor. This combination ignites the IP-based home networking revolution, transforming the market.”

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