STMicroelectronics and China's Dahua Technology develop Cable/IP dual-mode STB

MUMBAI: The Geneva-headquartered STMicroelectronics, the supplier of silicon chips for set-top boxes (STBs), and Dahua Technology Ltd, China‘s cable and IPTV dual-mode STB provider, have announced that they have successfully designed and manufactured a highly integrated digital-cable and IP set-top box, making ST the first silicon supplier to provide single-chip dual-mode digital set-top-box solutions for the China market.

The box, which begins deployment in Hangzhou Province in August 2006, will enable consumers to enjoy a new three-in-one digital media experience including digital-cable TV, video-on-demand, and web browsing for a wider choice of information services and broadcast programs, informs an official release.

At the heart of Dahua‘s design is a dedicated chip belonging to ST‘s STi7100 family of Advanced Video Codecs (AVC). This system-on-chip (SoC) solution integrates support for advanced high-definition H.264/MPEG4 AVC and MPEG4 P2 standard definition (SD) in addition to MPEG2 encoded video signals. These innovative single-chip HD/SD devices are the industry‘s first to enable the next generation consumer video systems and broadcast services.

The STi7100‘s integration combines all STB functions and multi-standard decoding circuitry onto a single piece of silicon minimizing both design and production costs for STB makers. Produced using ST‘s state-of-the-art 90nm process technology, the STi7100 family devices provides a more cost-optimized HD/SD Cable/IP dual-mode interactive box in a single-chip design, paving the way for support of H.264 HD/SD streams with advanced codecs, the release adds.

Compared with traditional TV delivery, IP set-top boxes provide an exciting interactive experience including VoD (Video on Demand) services that puts the audience in charge of selecting their favorite content according to their preferences, regardless of the program schedule. With Dahua‘s STBs, consumers enjoy a wide variety of services including interactive games, SMS, e-commerce, VoIP, and video phone calls.

"Leveraging its experience in this sector, ST will continue to offer a wide range of products that provide high flexibility, faster time-to-market, low cost, and high-quality solutions to our partners," says Robert Krysiak, STMicroelectronics‘ Corporate VP and GM for Greater China. "The cooperation with Dahua is the first volume deployment in China of our latest H.264 single chip, which is capable of both MPEG4 and MPEG 2 decoding, and it will further enhance Dahua‘s competitive advantage in the rapidly growing new Cable and IPTV market where Dahua is a leader right now."

Dahua‘s chairman and GM Zhu Giang Ming says, "ST‘s cost- optimized single-chip solution, which includes a reference design with software kit coupled to their dedicated engineering support, have given us a unique solution and faster time-to-market."

Dahua is China‘s major volume Cable and IP dual-mode STB provider for operators that provide VoD service for MPEG4 video and audio content. Operators will provide content through deployment of its dual-mode (Cable and IPTV) STBs enabled by the chip from ST.

So far 360 million households boast TV sets in China, where target audiences exceed 1.1 billion, including 114.7 million cable subscribers. The number of customers is also exploding in both broadband and wireless markets, giving China a huge potential market for IPTV. With further extension of its broadband IP network and continuous improvement in communication technology, China is expected to become the largest IPTV market worldwide over the next few years, the release further adds.

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