August 4, 2015
STMicro has officially joined the DOCSIS 3.1 chipset parade. After demonstrating its D3.1 platform earlier this year, the semiconductor company has now announced that the STiD325 chipset (code-named Barcelona) is available and sampling with customers.
The move to DOCSIS 3.1 will give service providers the ability to deliver multi-gigabit broadband speeds over existing cable networks. Unlike DOCSIS 3.0, D3.1 gets rid of traditional 6MHz and 8MHz channels, and instead shifts to Orthogonal Frequency-Division Multiplexing (OFDM) subcarriers, which make more efficient use of available spectrum. Supporting the D3.1 spec, the new Barcelona chipset from STMicroelectronics NV (NYSE: STM) includes two 196MHz OFDM downstream channels and two 96MHz OFDM-A upstream channels. It also promises backward compatibility with DOCSIS 3.0 and includes 32 downstream and eight upstream D3.0 channels.
Ironically, although DOCSIS 3.0 is the legacy technology, service providers have only just begun to deploy D3.0 modems in a 32x8 configuration. Hitron Technologies Inc. this week announced the first North American deployments of a DOCSIS 3.0 32x8 modem in customer deals with General Communication Inc. (GCI) (Nasdaq: GNCMA) and Suddenlink Communications . (See Hitron Deploys 'Gigabit' DOCSIS 3.0 Cable Modems.)
Back on the DOCSIS 3.1 track, STMicro isn't the first chipset provider to unveil a new D3.1 product. Broadcom Corp. (Nasdaq: BRCM), for example, introduced the first system-on-a-chip (SoC) for a DOCSIS 3.1 modem back in January, and showed off a DOCSIS 3.1 set-top reference design in June. (See The Chips Fall for DOCSIS 3.1 and Broadcom Claims First D3.1 Set-Top Design.)
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Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK), meanwhile, took the wraps off its new gigabit gateway at the INTX show in May, which it developed in partnership with Arris Group Inc. (Nasdaq: ARRS) and Compal Electronics Inc. The MSO is already running D3.1 field tests and plans to start major deployments of the technology in 2016. (See Cablecos Going Gaga Over Gigabit and Comcast Puts DOCSIS 3.1 Live in the Field.)
Analyst firm IHS found in a survey that cable providers on average expect to pass about one third of their residential customers with DOCSIS 3.1-enabled headends by April 2017. (See DOCSIS 3.1 Seen Taking Off.)
In one final note from STMicro, the chip company noted that Barcelona comes with pre-integrated RDK-B software. There has been limited public discussion about the details of RDK-B, but the concept is a spin-off of the Reference Design Kit originally developed by Comcast for set-tops. RDK-B ("B" for broadband) creates a common, open-source platform for cable-based modems and gateways. Comcast confirmed earlier this year that RDK-B trials are already underway. (See Comcast Readies D3.1 & RDK-B.)
— Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, Light Reading
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