Broadcom Claims First D3.1 Set-Top Design

Broadcom wins the prize… sort of.

With cable operators waiting breathlessly to deploy equipment with the new DOCSIS 3.1 specification, Broadcom Corp. (Nasdaq: BRCM) has raced ahead of other vendors to announce the "world's first" D3.1 set-top reference design today at the ANGA COM cable show in Germany today. The new platform promises multi-gigabit broadband speeds combined with support for Ultra HD video and gigabit WiFi.

Broadcom's news is somewhat undermined, however, by the fact that Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) showed off its own D3.1-enabled gigabit gateway last month at the Internet & Television Expo in Chicago. Although Comcast didn't officially announce its chosen vendors for the new hardware, Light Reading confirmed that Arris Group Inc. (Nasdaq: ARRS) and Taiwanese company Compal Electronics Inc. are the manufacturing partners behind the gigabit gateway. (See Cablecos Going Gaga Over Gigabit and Comcast Readies D3.1 & RDK-B.)

Those companies can't sell the same solution to the rest of the market because Comcast designed the box with its own in-house teams. However, rest assured that Arris and likely Compal will be re-using their underlying technology platforms with other cable customers.

Broadcom's solution, meanwhile, offers a host of features (full list below), including 10-Bit HEVC video decoding and dual-band WiFi supporting 802.11ac Wave 2. Downstream speeds reach up to 5 Gbit/s, with upstream speeds clocking in as high as 2 Gbit/s.

"Competition among service providers is driving an increase in Gigabit Internet speeds and 4K IP video around the world. Broadcom is bringing to market an extraordinary set-top box reference design that gives service providers a platform to enable the best connectivity performance available today," said John Gleiter, Broadcom Vice President of Marketing, Broadband & Connectivity Group, in a statement. "With Broadcom's latest platform, service providers and OEMs can immediately begin to leverage the value of DOCSIS 3.1 to provide their customers with market-leading Gigabit broadband data speeds, the highest-speed dual concurrent 4x4 Wi-Fi for streaming Internet content to wireless devices and Ultra HD cable TV experiences."

Comcast so far leads the MSO pack in plans for DOCSIS 3.1 deployments. The largest US MSO, which is expected to start delivering its Gigabit Pro service over fiber in the coming weeks, has already said it will extend gigabit services to new markets using DOCSIS 3.1 over hybrid fiber coax networks in 2016. Cox Communications Inc. has said it will likely hold off on major DOCSIS 3.1 rollouts until 2017, with many mid-market operators likely to wait until 2018. (See Atlantic Broadband Courts TiVo’s Roamio.)

For more fixed broadband market coverage and insights, check out our dedicated gigabit/broadband content channel here on Light Reading.

Broadcom said its new set-top reference design -- with the sexy-sounding name of BCM93390VMS52 -- is currently sampling with customers.

Separately at ANGA, Broadcom also announced a new system-on-a chip solution supporting Ultra HD and a satellite set-top SoC solution supporting the new DVB-S2X broadcast standard.

Feature list for Broadcom's D3.1 set-top reference design:

  • World's first cable STB reference design to combine dramatically increased multi-gigabit broadband data speeds, Ultra HD video decoding and dual concurrent 4x4 Wi-Fi in a single, efficient design
  • Five gigabit downstream and two gigabit upstream broadband speeds to a consumer's home
  • 10-bit HEVC-enabled Ultra HD video decoding with Broadcom's BCM7252S
  • High-performance dual-core Brahma15 12000 DMIPs ARMv7 processor
  • 4kp60 or Quad HD decode and dual transcode capabilities
  • Supports up to 16 concurrent DVB-C video channels
  • 1Gbit/s MoCA 2.0-bonded coax home networking
  • Integrated DOCSIS 3.1 cable modem and router with Broadcom's BCM4366 5G WiFi for both 2.4 and 5GHz WiFi, including:
  • Speeds up to 2.2 Gbit/s at 5GHz and 1 Gbit/s at 2.4GHz with full support for 802.11ac Wave 2 specifications
  • Advanced Multi-User-Multiple Input Multiple Output (MU-MIMO) implementation allowing for up to a 4X speed boost
  • Robust wireless content delivery with support for advanced features, which enable unprecedented reliability for video and data distribution over Wi-Fi

— Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, Light Reading

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