Wednesday, January 4, 2006

QUALCOMM Acquires Berkana Wireless for RF CMOS

QUALCOMM has acquired Berkana Wireless, a Silicon Valley-based fabless semiconductor company, for approximately $56 million in cash. Berkana supplies CMOS radio frequency integrated circuits (RFICs) to the wireless industry.

QUALCOMM said the addition of Berkana's RF CMOS intellectual property, design portfolio and engineering resources, as well as its cellular systems expertise, would reinforce its leadership in the RFIC industry and help it deliver CDMA2000 and WCDMA (UMTS) RF solutions.


PMC-Sierra Introduces VoIP Reference Platform

PMC-Sierra announced the availability of a VoIP Phone reference platform based on its MIPS-powered MSP2020 Secure VoIP processor and certified Voice Processing Software. The design allows OEMs and ODMs to build consumer and enterprise IP phones with high quality service and very competitive bill of materials (BOM) costs; and secure Wi-Fi phones that overcome reliability and privacy concerns associated with Internet-based telephone services.

PMC-Sierra said its Voice Processing Software technology enabled the MSP2020 VoIP processor to deliver the same levels of voice quality proven with MSP4000 at China Netcom Labs, China Telecommunication Technology Labs and Korea's Telecommunications Technology Association.
The enhanced VoIP security is provided by the MSP2020, which has an integrated hardware security engine that encrypts call set-up messages and voice channel streams for secure transmission over the Internet. This hardware security accelerator performs on the fly encryption and decryption of secure voice channels without the need for a high-speed microprocessor or DSP. Combined with the MIPS-based voice processor, the device is a highly optimized processor for VoIP Phone applications.

Broadcom's DOCSIS 3.0 Cable Set-Top Chip Hits 120 Mbps Downstream

Broadcom introduced a front-end cable TV set-top box chip with integrated channel bonding technology. Channel bonding is a DOCSIS 3.0 feature that significantly increases the transmission speed of a cable network. Channel bonding could enable MSOs to migrate to an all-IP network platform.

The new Broadcom BCM3255 set-top box chip can support up to 120 Mbps downstream data rates. The chip integrates three 1024/256 QAM
in-band demodulators, an out-of-band demodulator, DOCSIS 2.0+/3.0 cable modem technology, USB 2.0 MAC and PHY, and a 10/100 Fast Ethernet MAC (media access controller) and PHY (physical layer device). An integrated 800 DMIPS processor provides support for these next generation features including DOCSIS 2.0+/3.0 and channel bonding resequencing, DOCSIS set-top gateway (DSG) protocols, as well as networking protocol support for TCIP, IPnP and IPv6.

Broadcom designed its new BCM3255 set-top box chip to interface with its BCM7400 dual high-definition (HD) advanced video coding (AVC)/VC/MPEG-2 decoder chip. The new BCM7400 is a single-chip backend solution that supports the latest video compression technologies, including AVC and VC-1 for HD programming. The BCM3255 and BCM7400, when combined with multiple BCM3420 tuners, provide an HD AVC, digital video recording (DVR) cable TV media center design that can support channel speeds of up to 120 Mbps with multiple HD AVC streams, advanced downloadable conditional access system (DCAS) security features, up to 1600 DMIPs processing power, and a complete home networking management package. Broadcom packaged this complete solution into the BCM7400CAB reference design to provide its customers with a turnkey solution for next generation set-top box designs.

"Increasing the speed and performance capabilities of the cable network is a key element for MSOs as more and more telecommunications operators install fast, fiber-to-the-curb networks," said Daniel Marotta, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Broadcom's Broadband Communications Group.

DIRECTV Embraces DLNA and UPnP Interoperability

DIRECTV has committed itself to device interoperability in a bid to make enhance home entertainment. The company has recently joined the Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA), which is focused on delivering an interoperability framework of design guidelines based on open industry standards to complete the cross-industry digital convergence. DIRECTV said it will implement DLNA interoperability guidelines in its next generation set-top boxes that will enable the secure transfer of content within individual DIRECTV customer homes.

DIRECTV has also recently joined the Universal Plug and Play (UPnP) Forum and announces its support for UPnP functionality as described in the DLNA interoperability guidelines. DIRECTV incorporation of UPnP technology will provide the base for DIRECTV product interoperability in digital home networks.

Google to Support Intel Viiv Technology Platforms

Google will make its video service available on the new Intel Viiv technology platform. The companies said their planned collaboration is intended to give consumers an easy way to search, manage and consume the huge amount of video information available on the Internet.

"Both companies believe open standards are critical to provide rapid growth in digital entertainment," said Susan Wojcicki, vice president for product management at Google.

Intel's Viiv Aims for New Digital Entertainment Era

Intel CEO Paul Otellini introduced the company's new Viiv platform promising a new era of digital entertainment. Intel Viiv consists of a suite of Intel-based hardware and software matched to Microsoft Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005. Later this year, the platform will add features to help simplify the set-up of a home network along with the ability to transfer digital content from the PC to other devices.

Intel Viiv platforms are based on the new Intel 945/955/975 Express Chipset family and Intel PRO/1000 PM or Intel PRO/100 VE/VM network connection.

Otellini also introduced content partners that will make digital programming available for Viiv. These include:

  • AOL -- AOL Music On Demand, AOL Radio featuring XM Satellite Radio and AOL Pictures this month; AOL Music Now and AOL Video(1) AOL Video featuring the "AOL Hi-Q" high-quality video format coming later this year.

  • ClickStar -- The entertainment company will introduce its first film, "10 Items or Less," via the Internet just weeks after its theatrical release.

  • DIRECTV -- will make its programming seamlessly available on PCs, laptops and media players through its verified set-top.

  • ESPN -- will feature sports highlights in high definition plus Full Court with 300 collegiate basketball games in full-screen broadcast quality.

  • Eros -- The largest international distributor in the Indian film industry ("Bollywood") plans to make its digital content portal and future digital video services available on-demand.

  • Grupo Televisa -- the largest media company in the Spanish-speaking world will provide a wide choice of popular soap operas, sporting events, news and music.

  • MTV Networks -- MTV said it will optimize a number of its channels for Intel Viiv technology ranging from Comedy Central's "MotherLoad" to MTV's "Overdrive."

  • NBC Universal -- NBC Universal will deliver select highlights in high resolution of all 17 days of the 2006 Winter Olympics to Intel Viiv technology-based PCs, with other joint efforts later.

  • Shanghai Media Group -- China's top media group will deliver its digital movies, TV dramas, exclusive interactive programming and other live content.

  • Turner Broadcasting's GameTap -- A new broadband entertainment network, GameTap will bring videos and games to the "10-foot" TV screen.

Atheros Demos MIMO WLAN Solutions

Atheros Communications unveiled its next-gen "XSPAN" family of MIMO (Multiple Input Multiple Output) wireless solutions capable of delivering 300 Mbps data rates across a home environment using a 3 x 3 transmitter/receiver architecture. The three-radio solution increases throughput and connection reliability at greater range.

The Atheros AR6001 family of WLAN solutions is based on a highly compact, power-efficient, single and dual-band single-chip design.

Atheros, which is a founding member of the Enhanced Wireless Consortium (EWC). said it is seeking to accelerate the next generation 802.11n WLAN technologies.

2Wire Offers Outdoor Broadband Home Gateway for FTTP, VDSL2

2Wire announced an outdoor broadband home gateway that mounts to the side of the subscriber's home in a hardened, weather-resistant enclosure. The 2Wire's HomePortal 4000 series iNID (intelligent Network Interface Device) puts all gateway functions and all service and network terminations to the side of the house, eliminating the need to bring DSL into the house, thereby preventing the signal loss that is typical of in-home wiring. The location at the side of the house, near the existing telephone Network Interface Device, also allows for an easy connection to be made between the iNID's integrated VoIP function and the home's existing phone wiring. The outdoor location also provides carrier technicians with easy access to home coaxial cable wiring which can be reused to distribute high speed LAN technologies throughout the home to video set-top boxes and other networked consumer devices.

A customer-installable power module inside the home powers the iNID through the home's existing phone wiring, while the iNID's integrated battery provides backup power. An optional customer-installable 802.11g Wi-Fi modules also available. The gateway itself is packed with value-added applications such as Content Screening, Internet Access Control, Firewall Monitor, and Web Remote Access.

Broadcom to Provide MPEG-4/AVC Chipsets for EchoStar, DIRECTV

EchoStar Communications Corporation and its DISH Network satellite TV service have selected Broadcom's MPEG-4/AVC chipset solutions for two MPEG-4-specific set-top box products currently in volume production. The first product is the DISH Network ViP 211, which is DISH Network's first ever MPEG-4/AVC set-top box launched in December 2005. This product supports both HD and SD video in both MPEG-4/AVC as well as MPEG-2. The second product is EchoStar's flagship ViP 622, which is an MPEG-4/AVC set-top box with dual HD decoding that is capable of supporting multiple televisions within the home and that also incorporates digital video recording (DVR) capabilities.

DIRECTV's digital HDTV set-top boxes are also using Broadcom's MPEG-4/AVC silicon. Production versions of Broadcom MPEG-4/AVC chips were provided to LG Electronics in October 2005, enabling it to incorporate Broadcom's powerful video compression functionality into its LG-manufactured set-top boxes for DIRECTV.

Broadcom Introduces Dual-Channel AVC/VC-1/MPEG-2 Video Decoder Chip

Broadcom announced a new dual-channel AVC/VC-1/MPEG-2 video decoder system-on-a-chip (SoC) that enables cable, satellite and IP-network equipment manufacturers to develop high-performance media centers.

The new Broadcom chip integrates all of the required media center technology to securely access, store and share multiple types of digital media content, including HDTV programs, video-on-demand, Internet content, digital video, music and photos, and voice over IP services.

Key features include:

  • The latest generations of video compression technologies such as advanced video coding (AVC) (the ITU and ISO joint standard), VC-1 and MPEG-2

  • Dual audio and video HD channels that enable a single system to simultaneously deliver HD programs to multiple televisions in the home,
    and allow a user to watch an HDTV program while recording another, to
    record two HDTV programs at the same time or to display different programs on the television using picture-in-picture technology.

  • Concurrent multi-threaded MIPS CPU with IEEE754 FPU and 128KB second- level cache provides 875DMIPS capability enabling systems to support advanced applications with a fast response time, JAVA-based applications and 3D games.

  • Integrated PVR capability that enables the simultaneous recording of multiple channels, and then enables the user to store and play back the content throughout the home.

  • Advanced 2D and 3D graphics engine that provides visual content and enhances the user interface by providing improved program guides and navigation capabilities, as well as a user friendly consumer operating environment that is similar to personal computers.

  • Integrated content security processor that provides end-to-end security and digital rights management of media content. Cable TV downloadable conditional access system (DCAS) is supported to enable DCAS-based leased and retail "digital cable ready" set-top boxes. SVP security is included for content protection in the digitally connected home between the gateway and its attached clients.

  • Integrated peripheral interfaces, such as 10/100 Fast Ethernet and USB 2.0, to connect within the home to other digital appliances or to
    connect to an IP network via a DSL modem. Other networking connections, such as Wi-Fi, can be established through a PCI port that is secured by digital transmission copy protection (DTCP).

The chip is priced at $49.50 each in 10,000 piece quantities.

Verizon's V CAST Music Service Uses Windows Media

Verizon Wireless debuted its V CAST Music service, which offers customers the ability to download music over the air directly to their wireless phones or straight to their Windows XP PCs and transfer digital music between the PC and the phone through Windows Media Player 10.

Verizon Wireless adopted core Windows Media technologies including Windows Media Digital Rights Management (DRM), an enhanced Windows Media Audio Professional (WMA Pro) codec and Media Transfer Protocol (MTP) for V CAST.

Using a dual-download approach for the handset, the V CAST Music service provides an optimized file for mobile handsets and access to a higher-fidelity copy for downloading on Windows XP-based PCs. Copies available for downloading to a Windows XP-based PC can be accessed through a new Verizon Wireless V CAST Music online store in Windows Media Player 10 and integrated into a customer's existing library for playback on the PC. Downloaded music can also be burned to CD and enjoyed on a host of portable and networked devices, including PlaysForSure-verified devices and the Xbox 360 video game and entertainment system.

The V CAST Music store will have a catalog of more than 1 million music tracks.


MCI Restates Financials for First Three Quarters of 2005

Just prior to an expected closing of its merger with Verizon, MCI reissued financial statements for the quarterly periods ended March 31, 2005; June 30, 2005; and September 30, 2005. As a result of a comprehensive review of its contributions to the Federal Universal Service Fund, MCI determined that previously issued financial statements included an error related to these contributions. The result of the error was an over-stated net income for the nine-month period ended September 30, 2005 of $52 million.

MCI said the restatement will have no impact on MCI's pending merger with Verizon.