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Broadcom Dips Two Chips in 800M 'Prototype'

Jeff Baumgartner
LR Cable News Analysis
Jeff Baumgartner
5/5/2010
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A Docsis 3.0 modem "solution" from Broadcom Corp. (Nasdaq: BRCM) capable of bonding 16 downstream channels is actually a prototype of sorts that fuses together two separate eight-channel wideband chips.

Broadcom is showing off that handiwork this week at the ANGA Cable show in Germany, but the company later clarified that the demo design, which can produce up to 800 Mbit/s in downstream bursts on EuroDocsis-based networks, does not represent the introduction of a new, fully integrated Docsis 3.0 chipset… at least not yet. (See Broadcom D3 Chip Approaches Gigabit Speeds.)

Jay Kirchoff, senior director of product marketing for Broadcom's Broadband Communications unit, told Light Reading Cable on Tuesday that the reference design being shown at ANGA involves the tying together of two discrete BCM3380 D3 chipsets.

However, he does note that cable operators are starting to ask about video gateways that are capable of bonding more than eight channels, hence the reason why Broadcom chose to show off a 16-channel design that Kirchoff refers to as a "prototype" or "proof-of-concept."

"Theoretically it could be taken to production," he adds, noting that any such decisions would be left to the companies that actually make the modems, gateways, and set-top boxes. "We're just showing what's possible with our 3380 solutions."

Although there's interest in modems that can bond more than eight channels, "there's no basis for doing a production product [like that] today," he says. "This [reference design] is not a production product… but is being used to show what was possible with our current technology."

Kirchoff says Broadcom is looking into Docsis 3.0 modem chipsets that can bond more than eight downstream channels, but hasn't finalized how many downstream channels the next fully integrated chipset will be capable of bonding together. "Operators are looking at potential solutions with more than eight, so that might mean 24 or 32. There is no unified agreement in the industry on what the right number is."

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

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