Increasing Demand for Thin Client Solutions
As consumers increase their use of IP streaming for audio/video access, the importance of a thin client architecture becomes more necessary. Starting with IPTV, demand has been sweeping across the globe over the past three years, reaching a level of 16 million deployments in 2008 according to iSuppli. Likewise, digital media adapters which connect to televisions and provide access to PC and Internet-based media have been increasing in popularity due to the explosion in online content. Many cable providers are in the process of migrating to hybrid approaches with IP-based delivery, which result in a server-client architecture for distributing video throughout the home. Thin clients, which focus on user interaction and media access, form the common thread among these trends.
“Thin client architectures are becoming more commonplace today as the world accesses more and more media through IP streaming,” said Ken Lowe, vice president of strategic marketing at Sigma Designs. “Our new SMP8652 represents a price/performance optimized solution for thin clients, a market we have been serving for years as the clear leader in IPTV set-top boxes and digital media adapters.”
SMP8652: The Right Performance at the Right Cost
Sigma’s SMP8652 media processor integrates a complete complement of next-generation capabilities for a single-chip SoC solution with powerful multimedia processing, robust content security system, multiple on-chip CPUs, and a full complement of system peripherals. Its combination of on-chip processors and memory controllers provides the needed headroom for the next generation of client middleware and software stacks. At the same time, establishing a minimal memory footprint using a high-speed 32-bit data path enables implementations with small form factors, lower BOM (bill of materials) costs, and lower power dissipation.
Taking performance to the next level is accomplished by combining significant increases in CPU speed, memory bandwidth, and architectural efficiencies. To start with, the SMP8652 is a multi-core media processor that features a 500 MHz MIPS 24k main CPU that enables crisp user interaction and a wider range of application-based features which enhance “future-proofing” of the platform. A second MIPS processor called the IPU manages interrupt operations and offloads burdensome system tasks, such as portions of the network stack to further optimize main CPU utilization. A third MIPS processor manages all system security functions including decryption and key generation. The SMP8652 also features a new DDR-2 memory controller, which supports double-data-rate memories up to 667 Mbps as well as an improved arbitration engine to maximize the efficiency of accesses. Finally, the SMP8652 maintains software compatibility with the Sigma Multimedia Library to uniquely build on the proven performance and reliability of the earlier generation platforms.
From a media processing standpoint, the SMP8652 offers a full complement of advanced decoder engines with high definition video decoding, including of H.264 (MPEG-4 part 10), Windows Media® Video 9, VC-1, MPEG-2 and MPEG-4 (part 2), and the new AVS standard. High-performance graphics acceleration, multi-standard audio decoding, advanced display processing capabilities, and HDMI output round out its multimedia core. Powerful content security is ensured through a dedicated secure processor, on-chip flash memory, and a range of digital rights management (DRM) engines for high-speed payload decryption. The SMP8652 also features a full complement of system peripherals, including a dual Gigabit Ethernet controller, dual USB 2.0 controller, NAND flash controller, IR controller, and SATA controller.
ODM Manufacturers Prepare for Potential Demand
Indicative of the high level of interest the SMP8652 has gained, several key original design manufacturers (ODM) are already gearing up for impending production ramps.
“Moving ahead, we intend to build an increasing portion of thin client products to tap into these new applications,” said Tim Kang, CTO of Alpha Networks Inc. “Towards this goal, we are using industry leading technologies, such as the new SMP8652 media processor from Sigma Designs to create a new line of powerful yet cost-effective products.”
“UTStarcom is focused on delivering innovative IP-based solutions to our customers, enabling them to provide next-generation services in their key markets,” said Baijun Zhao, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Multimedia Communication Business Unit (MCBU), UTStarcom. “We are excited to tap into the power and flexibility of Sigma’s SMP8652.”
The SMP8652 media processor will be sold through Sigma’s direct sales force. Samples of the SMP8652 are available immediately and production volumes will be available in July.
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