Sigma Announces Reference Design for Ultra-Thin Set-Top Box

  • Home Automation
  • Home Networking
  • Online Video
  • Sigma Designs
  • Video
MILPITAS, CA -- The classic set-top box is about to shrink dramatically, disappear from sight and become the hub of all home-control systems.

So says chip designer Sigma Designs, which is unveiling a reference design that makes possible a new form factor and new functions for set-top boxes. Even though the individual chips may not represent great leaps forward from Sigma's existing technologies, Sigma VP of marketing Michael Weissman calls the design "a packaging innovation that can transform an industry," saying it solves problems that service providers have been struggling to solve. He expects the first set-top boxes based on the design to hit the market next year; within two years, he predicts, the new design will become standard.

The new design combines home networking (powerline networking and Z-wave), home control functions and media processor functions, including both IPTV and Web-based video. A device built using the design will be an ultra-thin set-top box, sized about 3"x4"x1.25", that can plug directly into a wall outlet without a power cord. Because it uses Z-wave technology, no line of sight is required. The STB can be placed out of sight, behind a television or in a cabinet, and connected to the television through an HDMI connector. A user can point a remote to control the television set or any of more than 500 Z-Wave devices including lights, door locks, thermostats and more. It can decode multiple HD IPTV streams.

The new devices will also be simple enough to self-install. "Service providers are looking for ways to cut costs while improving the consumer experience," says Thinh Tran, chairman and CEO at Sigma Designs. "With the Sigma ultra-thin, telcos and cable companies can enable users to self-install their set-top box for dramatically reduced deployment costs. Just as importantly, this high-performance solution delivers more reliable quality of service, a form factor consumers love and the biggest ecosystem of interoperable home control products to control."

Sigma Designs will make the reference design available to service providers and their set-top equipment suppliers and expects the turnkey solution to enable them to bring devices to market quickly.

What's Inside the Box
** SMP8670 media processor
The SMP8670 is a new media processor targeted at thin clients and optimized to run over-the-top application environments such as Adobe AIR for TV, Adobe Flash Player and other graphically rich environments. This new solution is 40 percent faster than previous Sigma thin-client solutions and dramatically improves the responsiveness of these new, advanced user interfaces. The SMP8670 is also very power efficient - consuming 30 percent less power than previous versions.

** CG2110 HomePlug AV technology with ClearPath
Sigma's HomePlug AV with ClearPath is a breakthrough home networking technology that enables unprecedented, carrier-class streaming of HD video, voice and data over existing powerlines in the home. Sigma's award-winning platform uses all three wires - phase, neutral and ground - to deliver improved performance and up to twice the throughput. It is the only MIMO (multiple in, multiple out) solution currently available over powerline. Conforming to the universal HomePlug AV standard, Sigma's HomePlug AV with ClearPath has the unique ability to deliver triple play, whole-home DVR, HDTV and 3DTV to every power outlet within the home - even within multi-phased homes, across surge protectors and through EMI filters.

** Z-Wave technology
Z-Wave is the leading technology for home control and energy management. Today, more than 500 completely interoperable products worldwide from over 170 manufacturers support Z-Wave - far more than rival technologies. The leading makers of lighting, thermostats, shade controls, door locks and more have created the broadest ecosystem of solutions. ADT, Schlage, Verizon, Vivint and more all deploy home services based on Z-Wave.

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