Microtune’s announcement this week (click here) of a new wideband upstream amplifier was an opportunity for the company to promote the cause of DOCSIS 3.0 flexibility.

The MT1570 upstream amplifier can deliver 120 Mbps upstream via four bonded upstream channels from 5 to 85 MHz, according to Microtune, which also features the MT2170 wideband tuner and MT 2068 narrowband tuner in its DOCSIS 3.0 portfolio.

Adopted by partner Texas Instruments, Microtune’s tuners are battle tested. "(It) has been used in all DOCSIS 3.0 modems that have been certified to date," said Microtune COO Bud Taddiken.

As reported in September (click here), the latest version of TI’s Puma 5 family increased the number of downstream channels available for bonding by four, making it capable of powering an 8×4 (eight downstream, four upstream) cable modem or video gateway.

"All of the RF silicon used there … was coming from Microtune," said Taddiken.

Microtune had no deployment wins to announce for its upstream amplifier, but Taddiken said that the MT1570 was "available in volume today."

Any such wins would likely come at the expense of competitor Anadigics. In September, Anadigics announced that Sigma Designs was featuring its ARA2017, DOCSIS 3.0-optimized 5-to-85 MHz frequency range amplifier in its IP-cable set-top box reference design.

Cisco Systems (Scientific-Atlanta) and ARRIS are Microtune’s largest customers, with two-thirds of the Cisco business being cable-specific and split equally between set-top boxes and modems, Taddiken said.

With various permutations of narrowband and wideband tuners available to harvest widening swaths of spectrum, it’s now up to the MSOs to reveal their DOCSIS 3.0 preferences. "We are providing to our customers a flexible set of configurations so they can build what the cable operators want," Taddiken said.

As for TI and Microtune competitor Broadcom, we’ve only squeezed these two (unauthorized) words from the Silicon dog that otherwise is not barking: "Just wait."

When asked what that cryptic comment might have meant, one original equipment manufacturing (OEM) analyst speculated that an 8×4 system on a chip (SOC) with integrated tuner(s)/amp might be in the works, but wondered whether that was even possible.

Meanwhile, the wait is on, not only for Broadcom, but also for those MSOs that have yet to place their orders for DOCSIS 3.0 modems.

– Jonathan Tombes

Read more news and analysis on Communications Technology‘s Web site at www.cable360.net/ct/news/.

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