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Monday, March 28, 2005
ST's New Set-Top Box Chip Lowers Cost for STB Makers

STMicroelectronics has announced a new MPEG decoder for standard definition TV.

With its further integration of common functional blocks, including audio DACs (digital to analog converters) and the VCXO (voltage controlled crystal oscillator), manufacturers using the new device will be able to cut their total component cost and simplify board design and assembly.

The chip, called the STM5105, is part of the company's OMEGA family of STB solutions. It is designed to address the requirements of the mainstream STB market, where it will provide a unified, single-device platform for a range of set-top boxes from basic low-cost products up to MHP (multimedia home platform) applications, for worldwide Free-to-Air satellite, cable and terrestrial services.

ST currently supports the high volume STB market with the STi5518, which is used in a very high proportion of set-top boxes worldwide, and with the STi5516. This new chip offers a smooth migration path from designs based on the STi5518 and other earlier-generation OMEGA devices with ST's own STAPI driver support and reference software. New designs are supported by ST's development toolkit and by a broad range of third party products.

The decoder supports all of the features of the STi5518 and adds new capabilities and higher performance. The clock speed of the embedded ST20 32-bit RISC CPU core -- the dominant CPU in the STB market -- is more than doubled to 200MHz, providing increased power for advanced applications and enabling improved compatibility with mainstream set-top box middleware.

Overall performance is further increased by an integrated 2D graphics engine, which relieves the CPU of on screen display (OSD) overhead and provides an enhanced experience for the TV viewer. This graphics subsystem is supported by an advanced "blitter"-based display. Additional features provide the opportunity to extend the use of the chip to both alternative and more advanced platforms; features include DVB (digital video broadcasting) descramblers, a low-cost DVB-CI (common interface) to link it to a removable security module, and support for a single tuner DVR (digital video recorder) for high quality time-shifting.

Like the other OMEGA devices, the STM5105 integrates a transport de-multiplex block, the ST20 32-bit CPU, an audio/video MPEG-2 decoder, a digital video encoder and the enhanced display and graphics features. DVB descramblers in the transport de-multiplex block and Macrovision copy protection allow it to be used in basic pay-TV services.

The STM5105 is built using ST's state-of-the-art 0.13£gm technology, and uses the 216-pin LQFP package. Samples are available with volume production expected early in Q2 2005. Pricing is US$7 in 100k quantities.

From NE Asia Online

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