Chip giant Broadcom is putting a stake in the ground on next-generation home networking by launching four new chips today. Most consumers may never need these chips, but if you ever upgrade to a UltraHD television, also known as 4K TV, you’ll wish you had them.
That’s because UltraHD TVs can put four times as much data on a screen compared to today’s 1080p high-definition TVs. And if you plan on sharing that video on other TVs around the home, you’re going to need much faster video transfer than today’s networks can handle.
That’s the idea behind a new video chip standard, advanced high-efficiency video codec (HEVC), also known as H.265. Rich Nelson, the senior vice president of marketing in Broadcom’s Broadband Communications Group, said in an interview with VentureBeat that HEVC chips have 50 percent better bandwidth utilization than current MPEG-4 video standard chips. Broadcom’s new chips will spread out the utility of the company’s HEVC chipsets, making them useful for a variety of other purposes. The chips can be used in set-top boxes for IPTV, cable TV, and satellite TV. And they can also enable existing high-speed data networks to better transfer data in a network.
“We are broadening the chips to create mainstream, mid-range products for cable, satellite, and IP TV,” Nelson said.
Broadcom introduced its first UltraHD home gateway in January at the Consumer Electronics Show. A home gateway is a box you can buy at an electronics store and hook up to your home network. It is a portal into a web-connected home and the point in your own personal network where you can store all of your digital content. If you click on a movie, a service provider will send the digital bits to your gateway. From there, the gateway transcodes the video (converts it to the right format), and then sends it on to the appropriate screen in your home where you want to view it. The gateway also handles in-home wired or wireless networking.
UltraHD TVs are very expensive today. But over time, they could fall in price. If the UltraHD television market takes off, then home networking systems are going to need lots of upgrades, and Nelson said Broadcom wants to be in the right position to reap the benefits when that happens.
Broadcom is introducing the chips at the IBC event in Amsterdam starting today.