Singapore’s Six-Month HDTV Trial Relies on STMicroelectronics’ STi710x Family of H.264/AVC Decoder Chips in Cable and Terrestrial Set-Top Boxes
StarHub and MediaCorp choose STi710x-family-based set-top boxes to deliver high-definition TV
Geneva, August 08,2006 - STMicroelectronics (NYSE: STM), the world’s largest supplier of silicon chips for set-top boxes*, today revealed that a majority of the set-top boxes (STBs) being used in six-month terrestrial and cable TV trials of HDTV (High-Definition TV) services in Singapore – which started in June 2006 – are based on its STi710x family of highly-integrated H.264/AVC decoder chip. ST’s state-of-the-art STi710x family powers boxes deployed in Singapore both by StarHub, for its high-definition cable digital TV trial, and by MediaCorp, for its terrestrial digital HDTV trial.
The STi710x family, launched in 2005, offers the world’s first single-chip H.264/AVC and VC-1 decoder. It combines high-performance multi-standard decoding circuitry and all the required STB functions in a single device, rather than being an add-on processor for an earlier product, making it the most cost-efficient solution for STB manufacturers. The chip is produced using ST’s state-of-the-art 90nm process technology.
StarHub is Singapore’s sole cable TV operator, and it chose the STi7100-based SCV-3800C set-top box from its existing supplier, ADB (Advanced Digital Broadcast), for use in Southeast Asia’s first nationwide pay-TV HDTV trial, in which approximately 1,000 cable subscribers are taking part. The trial’s launch was timed to coincide with the 2006 FIFA World Cup, enabling viewers to enjoy 64 matches with crystal-clear video quality and near-cinematic sound.
The terrestrial HDTV trial – also the first in SE Asia – is being run simultaneously on the new Channel 38 by MediaCorp, with about 14 hours of high-definition local and acquired programming in prime-viewing time each week. Programming includes internationally popular films and series. The STi7100-based Draco STBs supplied by Skycom, a Singapore STB design house and manufacturer, are among the trial boxes deployed by MediaCorp to terrestrial viewers.
Customer feedback on the HDTV experience has been very positive with viewers praising the picture sharpness and sound quality of sports, blockbuster movies, and natural-history programs, as well as user-friendly Electronic Program Guides (EPGs). Singapore is home to nearly 1 million households, where planners hope to recognize H.264/AVC for HDTV services during 2007. The successful launch of HDTV in Singapore will also influence market growth in other countries in the region including Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia.
“We are delighted that the STi710x family of MPEG-4 decoders has been selected for these important HDTV trials in Singapore,” said Y.U. Lee, General Manager, Home Entertainment & Display Segment, Asia Pacific, STMicroelectronics. “ST has been a long-time leader for digital set-top box chips, consistently delivering innovative and world-class solutions for the market. And now with the extensive start-up of HDTV services and trials, in Singapore and elsewhere in the world, ST is once again proving itself to be at the forefront in delivering both leading-edge and cost-efficient, single-chip set-top-box platforms to manufacturers.”
The H.264/AVC (Advanced Video Coding) standard, also known as MPEG-4 Part 10, and VC1 – Microsoft’s Windows Media 9 Series codec – are ultra-efficient, fully scalable video technologies that produce high-quality video at lower data rates than earlier solutions, for everything from HDTV and DVD to 3G (third-generation) mobile phones. Services broadcast using H.264 use considerably less bandwidth than the widely used MPEG-2 coding scheme, and at a much lower bit rate, allowing broadcasters to economically transmit more high-definition programming.
The STi710x family is based on an innovative video-decoding architecture that combines hardware and software techniques to allow systems to be upgraded in the field to support new standards as they become available. For Digital Video Recorder (DVR) applications, it features embedded interfaces – including Serial ATA, and Hi-Speed USB2.0 – to allow external devices to be added easily to an STB or DVD player to provide additional functionality.
* inStat MPEG report “MPEG Video ICs: Transitioning to H.264” – July 2006
STMicroelectronics is a global leader in developing and delivering semiconductor solutions across the spectrum of microelectronics applications. An unrivalled combination of silicon and system expertise, manufacturing strength, Intellectual Property (IP) portfolio and strategic partners positions the Company at the forefront of System-on-Chip (SoC) technology and its products play a key role in enabling today’s convergence markets. The Company’s shares are traded on the New York Stock Exchange, on Euronext Paris and on the Milan Stock Exchange. In 2005, the Company’s net revenues were $8.88 billion and net earnings were $266 million. Further information on ST can be found at www.st.com.
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