xNew IBM 'System-on-a-Chip' Delivers Computing Power to Television Set-Top Boxes

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EAST FISHKILL, N.Y - 24 Mar 2000: -- IBM today announced a family of chips that will accelerate the transformation of TV sets into a fully interactive, two-way information appliances.

IBM is combining high-speed PowerPC processors and other television set-top box (STB) components onto a single "system-on-a-chip" that will give STB makers significant benefits in system performance, price and design. The chips will also help drive new capabilities for electronic program guides, Web browsing and interactive applications such as home banking, e-commerce and information retrieval.

"The passive, one-way TV in your living room is being transformed into a gateway for rich, interactive content," said Paul Belluz, director of digital video products, IBM Microelectronics Division. "These chips will help fundamentally change the way movies, music and other digital entertainment is delivered to our homes, as well as the way we conduct personal business transactions."

With today's announcement, Belluz said, the computing power contained in the next generation of television set-top boxes will surpass that of the desktop PC of just a year or two ago.

Advanced STBs are part of the fast growing category of "pervasive computing" devices that are fueling the growth of e-business by making information available to more people in more ways.

"The interactive television market is evolving rapidly and the potential applications are endless," said Dr. Kee-Ho Park, executive director, Network Team, Network Division, Samsung Electronics of Seoul, Korea. "IBM's new system-on-a-chip design gives us the flexibility to quickly adapt to changing consumer demands and the introduction of new, advanced applications."

The three new "system-on-a-chip" solutions are based on either the IBM PowerPC 405 or 401 processor and simplify STB design by integrating onto a single chip other STB subsystems. These include an MPEG-2 audio/video decoder, a memory interface subsystem and a wide range of peripheral interfaces. The STB032xx and the STB034xx chips are based on the PowerPC 405 and feature high-speed operation at 108 MHz or 162 MHz, with a 16-KB instruction cache and an 8-KB data cache.

The STB034xx solution with the PowerPC 405 processor provides the fastest single-chip speeds in the STB industry, giving developers additional performance and programmability for new applications. For traditional applications the STB021xx chip is based on the PowerPC 401 and features operation at 54MHz.

In addition to the STB PowerPC solutions, IBM has introduced a companion audio/video/transport decoder chip that enables a range of emerging applications, including dual channel (picture-in-picture) platforms and digital video recording.

To aid in the development of new applications, IBM Microelectronics has developed evaluation kits and worked with leading operating system and development tool vendors to give customers a head start in developing their own products.

Customer samples of the STB PowerPC 405 "system-on-a-chip" solutions -- and the companion audio/video/transport decoder -- are planned to be available in May, with production volumes available in July. The new PowerPC 401 STB "system-on-a-chip" solutions are planned to be available in the second half of 2000.

Information on these and other IBM semiconductor products and services can be found at http://www.chips.ibm.com.

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