Light Reading

Intel's New Set-Top Chip Packs More Punch

Jeff Baumgartner
LR Cable News Analysis
Jeff Baumgartner

Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) is introducing a media processor called Berryville, aiming to give set-top boxes and video gateways the kind of performance that's typically seen in video-game consoles.

Formally named the CE5300, the chipset is Intel's first media processor built on 32nm technology (its earlier CE4100/Sodaville and CE4200/Groveland processors used 45nm) and a dual-core processor, allowing Intel to more than double performance and beef up a 2-D/3-D graphics engine that can support some advanced gaming and videoconferencing applications.

"Until now, the set-top box has been the most underperforming [device] in the home," says Keith Wehmeyer, Intel's general manager of set-top platforms.

A feature called hyperthreading lets the 5300 support four simultaneous sequences/programs, Wehmeyer says. An H.264 B-picture hardware encoder allows the gateway to stream video to other devices on the home network, such as a tablet or another TV, at a lower bit rate without affecting video quality.

On the cable front, Intel initially plans to integrate the CE5300 with the Puma 5, a Docsis 3.0 chipset acquired from Texas Instruments Inc. (NYSE: TXN). (See Intel Snares TI's Cable Modem Business .)

Wehmeyer says the 5300 is ready for high-volume manufacturing. Intel is demonstrating the chipset at this week's IP&TV World Forum in London.

Why this matters
The 5300 will boost set-top and gateway performance as MSOs migrate video services to IP, launch more graphics-rich applications, and support more apps, including the user interface, in the cloud.

It's a strong indicator that Intel will continue to focus on pay-TV service providers, despite rumors that it may soon compete with them by offering subscription video services that are delivered over-the-top. Some of its bigger pay-TV customers include Liberty Global Inc. (Nasdaq: LBTY) (for its Horizon gateway), France's Iliad (Euronext: ILD) and Numericable-SFR , and Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK), which is using Intel's earlier-generation processors in the X1 box made by Pace plc .

The new chip also serves as fair warning to fellow set-top chip competitors, such as Broadcom Corp. (Nasdaq: BRCM), Entropic Communications Inc. (Nasdaq: ENTR) and Sigma Designs Inc. (Nasdaq: SIGM), that Intel is not going away anytime soon.

For more

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

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Jeff Baumgartner
Jeff Baumgartner,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:39:00 PM
re: Intel's New Set-Top Chip Packs More Punch

...will be called the Puma 6 and targeted to video gateways. More on this soon. JB

Jeff Baumgartner
Jeff Baumgartner,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:39:00 PM
re: Intel's New Set-Top Chip Packs More Punch

They did wind down the digital TV business but kept their focus on service providers. JB



User Rank: Light Sabre
12/5/2012 | 5:39:00 PM
re: Intel's New Set-Top Chip Packs More Punch

Didn't Intel announce a while back that they were abandoning the STB market?

With Intel ceding this market to ARM, why would STB manufacturers use these new chips when Intel will be getting out of this space momentarily?

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