SAN JOSE – Sigma Designs hopes to leapfrog separate coax, telephone or power line home networking chips with a new chip set that supports a mix of new and existing standards over all three wires. The CG5110, not yet in first silicon, is part of a growing trend toward hybrid broadband home networks.
Competitor Atheros Communications recently announced OEMs are working on systems supporting both Wi-Fi and powerline using its latest reference designs.
The chips come at a time when carriers and finally joining consumers in broadly rolling out home networks. Market watcher ABI Research (Oyster Bay, NY) forecasts the market for wired home networking chips will rise from 70 million units in 2010 to 250 million in 2015.
Sigma's CG5110 supports four wired home networking standards. It is racing to become one of the first available chip sets to handle the new ITU G.hn standard that covers high speed data over coax, telephone and power lines.
The CG5110 is also compatible with the HomePlug AV standard set by the ad hoc HomePlug Powerline Alliance and recently formalized as one of two options in the IEEE 1901 standard. The Sigma chip set also complies with 1901, including its coexistence mechanism for making sure it does not interfere with the Panasonic HD-PLC technology, the other option specified by IEEE 1901.
In addition, Sigma has built into the chip compatibility with the technology of the Home Phoneline Network Association (HPNA) which defines links over phone lines and coax cables. "We think for the first time we will deliver a chip set that lets all the service providers support all the services they want to in any home--and it can be a customer self install," said Michael Weissman, Sigma's vice president of corporate marketing,
Letting a consumer set up his own home network could save carriers as much as $400, Sigma estimates. ABI analyst Sam Rosen said such savings could be one of the drivers for adoption of the chip set.
"The prospect of a universal dongle that enables communication over any existing wire within the home will give cable installers the most flexibility when doing an installation," Rosen said. "But the prospect of curbside installation with an installation kit mailed to the home is the most exciting opportunity for video operators," he said.
The chip sets support one media type at a time, negotiating down to the slowest speed supported on a link using multiple standards. Sigma and Rosen foresee OEMs using two chip sets in gateways and set-tops to support simultaneous low bandwidth and high bandwidth links over different media.