Intel Goes Deeper Inside Docsis 3.0

12:05 AM -- Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC)'s been mum about its Docsis 3.0 plans since acquiring Texas Instruments Inc. (NYSE: TXN)'s cable business in 2010.

Officials still aren't revealing too much about what's on the way, but at least we now know that something's coming, and that Intel isn't about to let Broadcom Corp. (Nasdaq: BRCM) run away with that part of the market. (See Intel Snares TI's Cable Modem Business .)

Intel has an upcoming D3 chipset called the Puma 6, confirms Keith Wehmeyer, Intel's general manager of set-top boxes. He's not saying much more, but we know it will be Intel's first Atom-based Puma product. Intel uses Atom to power devices ranging from tablets, smartphones, netbooks and other consumer electronics gear.

Also expect the Puma 6 to be more integrated, capable of terminating a service provider's video security and conditional access systems without the need for another chip. That'll become more important as Intel looks to match up Puma with its new media processors for set-tops and video gateways. (See Intel's New Set-Top Chip Packs More Punch.)

Wehmeyer acknowledges that the Puma 6 will also be about "speeds and feeds," so the chip will probably support a higher level of channel bonding. Intel's current D3 chip, the Puma 5, can bond eight downstream channels and four upstream channels -- enough for downstream bursts of 320Mbit/s.

Evidence is mounting that the next generation of D3 chips will be capable of bonding 16 to 24 downstream channels, providing enough headroom for MSOs to launch IP video simulcasts while getting burst speeds in the neighborhood of 1Gbit/s. (See MaxLinear Hints at a 1Gbit/s Future .)

What matters is that the launch will ensure cable has two sources of Docsis 3.0 chips. Intel's next best chance to make a splash about the Puma 6 and its capabilities will be at The Cable Show, set to kick off May 21 in Boston.

A third is even possible. Entropic Communications Inc. (Nasdaq: ENTR) is acquiring Trident Microsystems Inc. (Nasdaq: TRID), which has Docsis 2.0 chips in its portfolio that can be traced back to Conexant Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CNXT), but there's no indication yet that Entropic will shoot for D3. Entropic CTO Tom Lookabaugh was noncommittal about those plans when he spoke to Light Reading Cable earlier this year about the Trident purchase. (See Entropic Sweetens Pot to Win Trident .)

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

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