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CableLabs crowd picks chip from Silicon Image

Tue, 08/12/2008 - 8:40am
Brian Santo

A cheap chip that enables the transfer of any content to any playback device via any IP-based medium (wired or wireless) wowed the cognoscenti at the CableLabs Summer Conference.

Attendees of the conference watched demos of new technologies presented by 11 companies and chose the chip designed by Silicon Image as the most interesting among them.

Silicon Image is a fabless semiconductor company best known for having co-invented High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI).

Judging by recent Summer Conference results, figuring out ways to distribute content around the home is high on the cable industry’s list of concerns; the last winner was a wireless router based on the 802.11n version of Wi-Fi demonstrated by Ruckus Wireless.

The Silicon Image chip can be inexpensively integrated directly into consumer electronics (CE) products, such as TVs, but could also be realized in an add-on or dongle that could plug into a handset, laptop or other device.

Silicon Image CEO Steve Tirado expects the chip to be available for sampling in the fourth quarter, and it will likely be priced in the $8 to $10 range. The price could come down significantly with volume. “The CE industry is very interested in this,” he asserted, referring to CE companies.

Comcast CTO Tony Werner said, “We’ve seen Silicon Image before, and they come along at a timely point.” He said Comcast expects the number of devices in the home to explode, and Comcast wants to be able to get the content it carries to all of them.

A cable operator could rely on chip-enabled devices to accomplish the distribution of video throughout subscribers’ homes – the number of streams from a set-top box would be limited only by the number of tuners contained in the box.

Other companies presenting at the conference were BroadSoft, LG Electronics, Itaas, VeriSign, PeerApp, Arris, Aster Data Systems, This Technology, Sigma Systems and PerfTech.

BroadSoft demonstrated three things: 1) its Unified Connector for SalesForce.com, which allows business users to integrate their communications with their CRM tool, including capturing logs of calls that occur with clients and prospects; 2) a Facebook "Click2Message" application, developed by JoeDeveloper.net, that allows Facebook users on BroadWorks-based networks to download an application that lets friends call them by clicking an icon on their Facebook page; and 3) a Web portal available to subscribers for reviewing and downloading applications.

LG Electronics demonstrated new edge devices – set-tops – that enable MSOs to deliver high-definition (HD) to the hospitality market.

Itaas demonstrated a mobile products and television (MPTV) platform that would provide a single point of convergence to deliver content and applications seamlessly between the TV, Web and wireless devices. The application is tru2way- and EBIF-based.

VeriSign demonstrated a prototype that enables an MSO to offer content retailing services to their subscribers.

PeerApp demonstrated how its Intelligent Media Caching algorithms allow peer-to-peer (P2P) and HTTP content to be cached based on the popularity or frequency of use, content freshness and accuracy. As content is stored and served from a location closer to the subscriber, it can be delivered much more quickly, often at wire speeds. Elimination of repetitive, redundant downloading of identical content also eliminates the need to overprovision network facilities for transit bandwidth, according to the company.

Arris demonstrated technology to distribute bandwidth fairly amongst users during times of network congestion. The Arris Fair Bandwidth Manager (FBM) appeases net neutrality concerns through a usage-based approach, rather than a protocol-based approach, to manage the network and traffic.

The Arris FBM combines comprehensive edge monitoring with protocol-agnostic policy management to temporarily mediate network traffic – only during times of peak congestion, thus eliminating potential bottlenecks and service interruptions across the network, Arris said. Even as large files are transferring, customers will still see a significant improvement in performance with the implementation of FBM.

Aster Data Systems, with expertise in analytic SQL databases, showed how MSOs can incrementally scale its system to take terabytes of data and analyze it for consumer behavioral patterns over time.

This Technology showed how it can place advanced advertising ad units (or placement opportunities) within digital video streams. The company's software is vendor and system agnostic, offering dynamic delivery of playlists, advertising avails, and related metadata via SCTE and CableLabs specifications. It is compatible with industry-wide advertising sales and delivery systems, including campaign managers, content streamers, and traffic and billing systems.

Sigma Systems showed how to exploit the Subscriber Information System (SIS) interface in the SCTE 130 standard. The company demonstrated how information from multiple repositories (subscriber, services, usage trends and subscriber demographics) is aggregated and federated to expose a common subscriber profile as a series of Audience Qualifiers (AQs) as defined in the standard.

PerfTech showed its new Internet Watermark, an application that allows MSOs to display their logos, or other static or animated images, semi-transparently on the browser screen. Similar to video-based watermarks or 'bugs' seen on television to identify the channel or, in animated form, to announce upcoming programming, Internet Watermark can be used for any number of branding, marketing and informational purposes.

More Broadband Direct:

• CableLabs crowd picks chip from Silicon Image 

• EchoStar inks license agreement for CableLabs' tru2way 

• Verizon adds 23 new channels to Pittsburg-area lineup 

• Sprint considers selling Nextel 

• Cisco merges Linksys SMB program into Cisco Channel Partner Program 

• Digital transition may be a bust for cable 

• Arris tunes up demos for IBC 

• Broadband Briefs for 8/12/08 

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