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MaxLinear chip searches 1GHz of cable

By PETER WHITE

Published: 25 May, 2012

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US RF chip specialist Maxlinear has thrown its hat into the ring in wide band capture technology, having already offered multi-band tuners on a single chip for DOCSIS data over cable, now the company is putting out two new chips that cable companies can use for up to 8 TV channels out of a home gateway. Both chips view the entire 1 GHz bandwidth of a cable network.

Back in January we asked the company about this capability, conscious of the lead that Broadcom had built up with its Full Band Capture technology and the company's director of marketing, Stefan Szasz, told us that it was likely to be in the company's roadmap, but said at the time it was concentrating on multiple DOCSIS bands, rather than tuning for TV signals.

This week at the Cable Show it has clearly taken important steps in both directions, with a new deal to bring 1Gbps to a new Intel DOCSIS tuner (the unit it acquired from Texas Instruments last year) as well as adding six and eight TV channels tuners in a single chip. The device may well have found its way into the Pace-TiVo box announced at the show (see separate story), given that it was announced with 6 cable TV tuners.

The devices announced by MaxLinear were the MxL258 and MxL256 and are built in 40 nm CMOS, and the company says they only consume 225 Milliwatts per channel, taking them under both the US and European requirements for cable home gateways and set tops. In full eight-channel mode of operation, the MxL258 consumes only 1.8 Watts, and the company claimed this is a 60% reduction in per channel power compared to previous generations of similar devices.

"The video gateway market is rapidly evolving as cable providers launch new systems with an expanded number of channels for DVR and enhanced OTT and in-home wireless video distribution services," said Brian Sprague, MaxLinear's Vice President and General Manager for Broadband and Consumer Products. "Our advanced-technology MxL258 and MxL256 ICs offer these video gateway systems low power and small form factor multi-channel receiver solutions that enable better video tuning performance, thanks to our FSC technology."

Customer samples of the MxL258 and MxL256 are available now with volume production in Q3 2012.

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