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STMicro to launch licensable DVB-S modulator

Posted: 10 May 2004 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:stmicroelectronics? dvb-s2? digital video broadcast? dvb? directv?

Eager to keep its lead on a global digital satellite market, STMicroelectronics said it has begun offering a licensable modulator design based on the new DVB-S2 specification.

The emerging DVB-S2 standard, which has cleared the Digital Video Broadcast (DVB) group's rigorous technology verification tests, is the next-generation satellite digital video broadcasting spec. It is designed to provide a big increase in the number of channels that can be broadcast in a conventional transponder.

The DVB-S2 scheme includes a new 8PSK modulation scheme, a new FEC method based on low density parity check (LDPC) and special synchronization tools.

Leading satellite broadcaster such as DirecTV and EchoStar are reportedly interested in migrating their satellite infrastructure from DVB-S to the more bandwidth-efficient DVB-S2. The move would allow them to boost satellite transmission capacity to offer more local channels along with local programming in high-definition format.

No professional satellite equipment exists yet to handle new DVB-S2 modulation, said Chris Carter, marketing manager of satellite and terrestrial business unit at ST's set top division. STMicro hopes to kick start the DVB-S2 satellite market by making the new DVB-S2 modulator design available to broadcast equipment manufacturers as licensable VHDL code.

STMicro has also designed its own DVB-S2 modulator including LDPC, according to Carter.

Although ST is the first to announce the availability of a licensable IP for DVB-S2-compliant modulator, Hughes Networks Systems said last fall it had begun licensing its own LDPC implementation as synthesizable cores to semiconductor companies.

Hughes surprised the digital satellite industry last year by proposing LDPC as a key FEC technology for the DVB-S2. The old coding theory was originally introduced by Robert Gallagher of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology more than 30 years ago. After exhaustive analysis and simulations, the DVB-S2 technical committee subsequently proved that LCPC could outperform newer Turbo code technologies.

The DVB group's decision to go with 8PSK combined with LDPC in the next-generation satellite transmission spec sent leading set-top IC vendors back to a drawing board. Many of them, including ST, had been betting on Turbo coding.

STMicro wasted little time in offering an optimized DVB-S2 modulator design, largely as a result of its close involvement with the DVB technical group.

STMicro's Carter the company will have a DVB-S2-compliant demodulation chip for satellite set-top receivers before the end of the year.

According to the company, the target for DVB-S2 has been to achieve optimum transmission performance along with system flexibility and reasonable receiver complexity. It added said that test results show that DVB-S2 benefits from recent developments in channel coding and modulation while providing 30 percent more capacity than DVB-S.

ST said capacity is so close to the theoretical performance limit - the so-called "Shannon Limit" - that it is unlikely there will be a need to develop a later specification.

- Junko Yoshida

EE Times

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