Broadcom makes home network push

The silicon vendor will show off 400-megabit MoCA 2.0 and other technologies

Broadcom will demonstrate silicon that can use the next-generation coaxial home networking standard, with a real-world speed of 400M bps, at the International Consumer Electronics Show next week.

The MoCA 2.0 standard from the Multimedia over Coax Alliance was completed in June 2010, and the group expects to begin certifying products under the standard this year. It doubles speed from the first version of the standard, which many carriers use in setting up networks within their subscribers' homes. MoCA estimates the technology is used in at least 10 million U.S. households.

MoCA is designed as a high-speed backbone for home networks, utilizing the existing coaxial cable commonly used for cable TV. It can link other types of networks, such as Wi-Fi routers, located around the home.

Broadcom announced a portfolio of six SoC (system on a chip) products equipped for MoCA 2.0 on Wednesday and plans to demonstrate them at CES. The offerings for consumer electronics makers, based on the company's Zephyr CPU, include silicon for a variety of set-top boxes and home gateways. Those include a set-top box with a multi-room high-definition digital video recorder, as well as a set-top box with dual HD decoding and dual transcoding for transmitting video broadcast content wirelessly to multiple devices.

The company's MoCA 2.0 products are already shipping to manufacturers in sample quantities, so consumer products based on them might go on sale within a year or less, said Stephen Palm, Broadcom's senior technical director.

In its base mode, MoCA 2.0's real-world speed of 400M bps is more than twice that of the standard's previous speed of 175M bps. In addition to higher speed, MOCA 2.0 adds a low-power sleep capability and a wake-on-LAN mode to automatically start up a dormant device, so it's more energy efficient, Palm said. The standard also incorporates more security capabilities, especially to protect content delivered by service providers.

Also on Wednesday, Broadcom is announcing a range of SoC platforms for hybrid media players. These players are designed to deliver both Internet-based OTT (over-the-top) video and traditional broadcast, cable and satellite programming to new and existing TVs. They offer the potential to turn nearly 2 million conventional TVs into "smart TVs" with Internet capabilities, according to Broadcom.

Manufacturers can use the BCM72xx series of SoC platforms to build players with a variety of capabilities. They include versions that can deliver an on-screen 3-D graphical user interface and guide, videoconferencing, and dual decoding and transcoding for streaming to multiple devices. Integrated with technologies including MoCA, Wi-Fi, HomePlug and Ethernet, the hybrid players based on the BCM72xx series will be able to serve Internet content and apps to different devices around a home, according to Broadcom. The BCM72xx platforms are shipping to manufacturers in sample quantities.

Broadcom is also working with software vendor Myriad Group to drive Android apps to TVs. With the Myriad Alien Vue software platform, service providers can use new and existing Broadcom-based set-top boxes to offer their subscribers Android apps on their TVs, Broadcom said. If the service providers choose to provide that service, they can update some set-top boxes already in subscribers' homes to make Android Apps available, Broadcom's Palm said.

Stephen Lawson covers mobile, storage and networking technologies for The IDG News Service. Follow Stephen on Twitter at @sdlawsonmedia. Stephen's e-mail address is stephen_lawson@idg.com

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Stephen Lawson

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