When such a chip as Zenverge’s ZN200—dedicated to transcoding—is paired with an SoC used in a “headed” cable set-top box (directly connected to a TV via HDMI or another connector), it enables multi-screen viewing (on smartphones, tablets, and others) of video originally compressed in MPEG-2, modulated in QAM, and delivered to set-tops. Ideally, such a set-up will enable the gradual transition of a cable operator’s service away from digital-broadcast video to IPTV over DOCSIS—potentially at minimum cost and with no interruption for customers.
The ZN200 can also pair with a core chip used in a so-called “headless” media home gateway (not directly connected to a TV), allowing the residential gateway to simultaneously support both thin clients (connected to TV) and “unmanaged” IP-based clients (such as tablets and smartphones). Such a headless media home gateway becomes “a single gateway for data, voice and video,” delivers content via MOCA or WiFi to any IP-connected devices, and brings “huge cost savings” to service operators, said Tony Masterson, chief technology officer at Zenverge.
Zenverge, however, isn’t alone in the growing transcoding chip market.
IHS analyst Froehlich noted that ViXS (Toronto, Canda) is the other
major “new” entrant to the set-top box space. Separately, Magnum Semi
has the old LSI Logic transcoding business, and their DXT line should be
applicable to this market,” he added.
How Zenverge's ZN200 is connected to the rest of the system
Meanwhile, Cavium and a
few others appear to also have an angle on the transcoding market.
Froehlich, however, believes that Cavium is concentrating on the
related, low-latency Miracast market, instead of set-top boxes.
Miracasat is a peer-to-peer wireless screencast technology based on
Wi-Fi, allowing consumers with tablets, for example, to “mirror” live
programs from a home cable box.
Zenverge appears to have a head start. The company’s ZN200 is already on
the market in the TiVo Stream box--now available at Best Buy, while
the chip is also in the Arris XG5 headless gateway for Comcast, which
was announced at the Consumer Electronics Show earlier this year. “We
are winning every single opportunity we know about” in the emerging
category of transcoder chips inside set-top boxes and media home
gateways, claimed Mobini.