Hi Junko - You mentioned Trident. I think you meant Entropic. Also no mention of BRCM which has market leadership in STBs today. Also no mention of ST, which appears to be making a comeback. Will these mobile SoCs have all the necessary CAS support HW that STB ODMs demand or is SW-based DRM becoming the new norm? Certainly on the power side, the mobile SoC contingent has a strong lead.
Hi, iPhony. I mentioned Trident because at one point, after NXP gave up on DTV SoC, Trident was a contender. Broadcom tried to get into the DTV SoC market but gave up. That said, Broadcom has always been a strong player in the STB market.
Both Broadcom and ST are members of Linaro. Whether Broadcom wiill become a founding member of the Linaro Digital Home Group remains to be seen.
You raise a good question as to whether these mobile SoCs have all the necessary CAS support HW that STB ODMs demand. I need to check that.
That, however, might be a question best directed to Linaro -- whose mission is to develop open source software for ARM SoCs.
Linaro could really make a splash in the digital home market. ARM has already leveraged Linaro pretty well in order to establish its IP process technology as the dominant force in the mobile market. This is the next logical step.
New entrants like Allwinner and other Chinese vendors have lots of opportunity with IP set tops (Roku, Chromecast, and so on), entry level cable set tops and Smart TV.
They will conquer these segments first, learning how to do "TV" effectively and efficiently. Then they will develop or acquire missing pieces like CAS and maybe the RF front end (full spectrum receivers? broacast tuners?).
The whole concept of Set Top Box needs to be thrown out and re-invented. Same for the TV - everything but the screen is replicated in the STB or AV receiver (what's an "antenna"?). Meantime the home gateway is being eyed for everything from energy management, home controls, home security, Internet, TV, gaming, streaming media, digital storage, phone (what is a "land line"?), all forms of wireless, and the NSA. Maybe there's an FM radio in there somewhere. And the smart phone may become the universal remote to it all.
Home gateways and STBs are designed for engineers - and the service providers who are wrestling for your monthly dollar. The common homeowner is befuddled by 75 forms of messy cabling, all manner of attached equipment, and swarms of resolutions, aspect ratios, formats, codecs, and jargon. Who among us readers isn't playing tech support for all our family and friends? People can't tell if the TV is off, or if it's on but the cable box is off so only a black screen is showing on the TV. Is the channel 3 in the corner from the TV, the STB, or the DVD recorder?
And heaven help you if you just want to find or record Keeping Up with the Wildest Housewives of Honey BooBoo. Why do I have to know what network it's on (only one?), what channel number that is (different for different TV's being fed by different STBs or OTA), which has the best quality picture, or what recording conflicts will occur? As for real-time, you're dead meat if some political speech was jammed in or the ball game runs long because you'll never find out if the butler did it. So much consumer electronics these days is like a Model T in the 20's: you'd better have a good mechanic nearby.
I kept hoping Apple would solve this problem for the users; but now Jobs is gone. I'm guessing it's not about ARM vs. MIPS or Linaro or Sony vs. Samsung or cable vs. satellite or 2nd, 3rd, or 4th screen engagement. It might be about Hollywood and the networks vs. the viewers at what price. It is most certainly about listening to the end user. The guts of a smart phone - the application processor - don't cover the technology needed for a full-sized multi-channel STB-DVR, let alone the all-singing, all-dancing home gateway.
The TV / home entertainment area is just a mess from what I can see, which means there's lots of opportunity to fix it. I don't know that "the Chinese" have any advantage (they're coming from way behind). But somebody had better start by listening to the real end user - the citizens of the world who aren't techno-wizards but just want to be entertained.
I like that you put the Chinese in quotes, they are so often treated as a homogenous mass and addressed with the same simplistic tone. I also think you have a point that the audience is mostly people who simply want to be entertained, not the technologically-savy necessarily. Not sure Apple losing Jobs really shifts things in the industry as much as you say, though. We'll see about that.