When Broadcom was in town and decided to call us for an exclusive talk with them, we were more than delighted. Now, Broadcom doesn’t have the larger-than-life image and glamour as some of the companies that make most of the products we use. It might come as a surprise to many but Broadcom’s components are present in almost all of the products on a day-to-day basis. Everything from the iPad to your notebook to your set top boxes have Broadcom components in them.
Broadcom was here, mainly to talk about one of the newest set top boxes designed specifically for the Indian market. The new SoC (system-on-chip) called the BCM7358 has a bunch of unique features. The primary focus is to bring a very cost efficient package that’s capable of handling HD content like all current solutions being used in the market.
BCM7358 – Broadcom's latest SoC solution specifically designed for the Indian market
The chip itself can decode 1080p streams. The SoC includes an amplifier, the tuner itself and a DVB-S2 class demodulator. The new SoC uses DDR3 memory in order to boost performance and cost effectiveness. There’s also scope for the product to support USB and Ethernet connectivity. The solution is 3D and DLNA compliant. The chip is currently available for sampling for interested parties.
When we spoke with Mr. Rajiv Kapur, MD, Broadcom India, he said that the new chip would integrate all of the features that any existing products would have but in a single chip. This would mean a lower cost to implement the technology. We also met up with Shriraj Gaglani, Senior Director, Business Development, Sales at Broadcom and Ari Jahanian, Senior Product Line Manager, DBS Set Top Box Products. We asked Shriraj Gaglani a few questions on introduction of 3D DTH boxes, Adobe Flash integration and how the new chip would be beneficial to the consumer.
Broadcom doesn’t make any consumer end products, so the products being displayed at the meet were working models made specifically for demonstration purposes. It’s for STB manufacturers to choose a particular chip or solution and mass produce them. These final products are then chosen by the DTH providers and sold to their customers. During the meet, variations of the BCM7358 were displayed with a whole bunch of other solutions. Two of these other devices caught our eye.
One of them, the platform based on the BCM7425 solution was quite impressive. It’s based on the 40nm fabrication process and can handle full HD 3D streams. The dual-core processor that is responsible for the capability runs at an incredible 1.3GHz. One of the interesting features of the solution is its trancoding capabilities and connectivity options. Wired and wireless connectivity is added by a separate BCM7424. Using it, you can stream HD channels to different devices in real time. It can do this using a number of resolutions, formats and codecs. At the demonstration zone, there was a console that was being used to monitor the statistics of the device. The product is one of the best solutions and is targetted at the premium user. We’re most eager to see a solution such as this end up in the Indian market.
Another solution, we would all like to see is Broadcom’s FastRTV. Current DTH set top boxes take ages to switch between channels. This is the time that’s required by the hardware to tune to the channels and do the processing. Broadcom’s FastRTV speeds up the switching of channels drastically. We were able to see a live demonstration of this feature. Already, Comcast has begun using this technology in their products.
Shriraj also showed us a demonstration of Flash running on the STB. The possibilities are endless. For example, we were shown a demonstration of a Flash game and even Youtube being streamed on the TV. By the looks of it, Broadcom has the capabilities to turn the STB into a mainstream home entertainment system if they want to. HD DTH services are becoming mainstream and 3D DTH services are slowly trickling in as well. With STBs slowly but steadily playing the role of a smart TV, things are looking bright if DTH services providers choose to offer these newer technologies to their customers.