Silicon Image formally introduced its new home networking technology designed to connect TVs, consumer electronics (CE) devices, computers, mobile devices and home theaters. Silicon Image demonstrated the technology for the cable industry at the CableLabs Summer Conference last year.

The company describes the approach, called LiquidHD, as a suite of protocols that run over other well-established IP-based connections such as Ethernet, MoCA, HomePlug and Wi-Fi 802.11n.

Networks based on LiquidHD technology must rely on device manufacturers incorporating chips from Silicon Image, however. The company announced the first such chip, the SiI6100 display processor, which allows CE manufacturers and MSOs to reduce the time-to-market for their next-generation networked equipment.

What’s getting the cable industry so hot for the technology is that the combination of LiquidHD-native TVs and LiquidHD-enabled clients promises to allow service operators to quickly deploy multi-room digital video recorders (DVRs) and video-on-demand (VOD) services, potentially at significantly reduced capex and opex.

Service operators will also be able to provide their content securely to LiquidHD-enabled mobile phones, PCs and laptops, Silicon Image said.

Payam Kermani, senior product marketing manager at Silicon Image, said, “The SiI6100 HD display processor is a key component in extending popular services like HD DVR programming to multiple locations in the house, creating the potential of increased average revenue per user for cable, satellite and IPTV service operators.”

Other elements of the LiquidHD technology include:

  • LiquidDiscover: Automatic discovery and authentication of all LiquidHD-enabled devices in the home. The company said consumers can just plug in a device and the TV automatically discovers it.
  • LiquidMedia: High-definition, high-fidelity media streaming from live and stored sources.
  • LiquidPixels: Pixel-accurate, low-latency and low-bandwidth remoting of any source device’s user interface to any LiquidHD display device. Includes a single remote control at each display to control all source devices on the LiquidHD network.
  • LiquidControl: Secure control and communications between all devices.
  • LiquidPlay: Comprehensive security and content protection architecture built on a robust hardware solution. Enables consumers to move and play their legally obtained content on any LiquidHD device they own. Also protects CE devices from malevolent attacks by securing the control commands and LiquidPixels remote user interface.

LiquidHD-enabled TVs and micro clients will be able to automatically discover source devices using LiquidDiscover technology. Source devices, in turn, will be able to remote their user interfaces over the network using LiquidPixels technology and will provide high-quality HD streams using LiquidMedia streaming technology. 

The SiI6100 system-on-a-chip (SoC) incorporates an SD/HD video decoder for H.264, MPEG-2 and VC-1 formats. In addition, the SiI6100 features a multi-format audio decoder for Dolby Digital, MPEG-1 Layer 2, MPEG-1 Layer 3 (MP3), MPEG-2 AAC stereo and DTS 5.1 formats.

The SiI6100 is paired with a LiquidHD developers kit for implementing the LiquidHD technology in residential gateways, master set-top boxes, Blu-ray Disc players and DVRs. Silicon Image said its developers kit supports the most popular set-top box and Blu-ray Disc processors in the consumer electronics market, as well as major middleware software for cable, satellite, IPTV and Blu-ray Disc players.

Silicon Image said it plans to partner with industry-leading service operators and consumer electronics companies to form an industry consortium that supports and fosters the LiquidHD technology standard for broad market adoption.

The SiI6100 display processor will be sampling in the second quarter of 2009, along with the LiquidHD developer’s kit.

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