As a follow up to the previous article on CableNET, here are some additional highlights from this technology showcase at this year’s Cable Show:
• Sigma Designs demoed a set-top box with embedded DOCSIS 2.0 and 3.0 cable modem that comes in either proprietary OS or Linux OS, able to run TV Guide’s latest EPG which supports Tru2way.
• Zodiac demoed a guide-based gaming application, which it claims has reduced previous memory footprints of as much as 400 k down to as little as 50 k.
• Pixel3 showed off its ability to upconvert and enhance SD quality video to corresponding HD via software for PCs, field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) for between set-top and TV applications, as well as professional headend gear or in the set-top applications.
• PureNetworks demoed its automated home networking setup software, which supports both PC and Mac platforms, and uses its developed Home Network Administrative Protocol (HNAP) as well as a proprietary P2P file sharing protocol to move drivers between computers for rapid setup.
• Samsung demonstrated its latest DVR and cable modem enabled SMT-H3290 (digital only) and SMT-3090 (digital and analog) set-tops – both support MoCA, Ethernet, and HPNA.
• Sandvine announced its new traffic management policy offering called Fair Share, which employs a unique rolling period to maintain consistent resource availability across users during periods of contention.
• Westell demoed its latest residential gateway, which supports MoCA, Wi-Fi, Ethernet, and HPNA. Particularly interesting about this Westell device was its roadmap to support home security, monitoring and automation (SMA), which is one of the newer initiatives at CableLabs.
• Amdocs demoed its personal productivity features, which can now provision enterprise voice services while supporting both in-house, as well as reseller business models. tru2way variances While tru2way (OCAP) support was clearly an area of focus by a number of demonstrating CableNET vendors, missing from many of these demonstrations were details about the number of supported applications currently available. Ultimately, the key benefit of bringing tru2way into the mainstream cable experience would be to allow developers to rapidly develop and deploy applications, but due to the implementation variances across cable operators, the portability of tru2way applications is not a near-term possibility.
When questioned about number of available OCAP applications and portability, some tru2way vendors referred to progress made in Korea as something U.S. cable operators may want to check out. Where’s the memory? Another observation during this survey of CableNET demonstrations involved the absence of set-top memory available on the latest set-tops on display. In light of the increasing memory requirements associated with tru2way, one wonders why these set-tops featured only between 350-500 MB of RAM, whereas even the most bargain-basement PC being sold today features at least 1 GB of RAM, with 2 GB becoming more the norm.
How did vendors respond to this question? The processor in these set-tops is required to perform manipulation of the guide and its associated applications, secure processing, audio encoding, and video encoding. While my question wasn’t what does the set-top’s processor do, clearly the response given suggests that sacrifices must be made in the amount of supported memory to make up for the processor’s increasingly complicated functions.
Yet with the cost of memory these days, it’s hard to imagine the cost of as little as 1 GB of memory being a significant contributing factor in set-top costs. The real motivation for smaller memory footprint wouldn’t be to create boxes with shorter shelf life, would it?
– Bruce Bahlmann, Contributing Analyst Read more news and analysis on Communications Technology‘s Web site at http://www.cable360.net/ct/news/.