Texas Instruments Inc. unveiled a new silicon chip last week that combines data and voice functionality onto one chip set for cable voice-over-Internet protocol and high-speed data rollouts.
Current TI chip sets inside Motorola Inc. and Arris Group Inc. embedded multimedia terminal adapters, for instance, have separate chips for voice and data services. The new Puma IV chips don’t just bring those functionalities together: the chip is built to handle more robust phone features operating at lower bandwidths.
“The architecture combines a DOCSIS [Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification] processor with digital signal process [DSP] technology on the same silicon,” said Dennis Rauschmayer, director of marketing for TI’s cable-modem business unit. “This architecture expands the functionality of the chip.”
For instance, cable operators are looking at how to integrate wireless phone calls into their VoIP operations.
“We had to size the DSP and processing power to support GSM [global system for mobile communications] codecs and AMR [automated meter reading] codecs,” Rauschmayer said. “This allows an EMTA to talk to a mobile station. There is no transcoding of codecs needed.”
The Puma IV chip sets can handle lower signal processing at slower bandwidth rates, making more efficient use of the spectrum.
“You need a high-performance DSP architecture to accomplish it,” he added.
Rauschmayer said TI hasn’t set prices for the new chip sets, which will be ready in the middle of 2005.
“The key this year is the software. We have software requirements like PacketCable certification we have to get through. That’s step No. 1,” he said.
Then it’s on to individual MSOs. Although operators follow the PacketCable spec, he said, “they have their own call agents, soft-switches, etc … It’s a huge amount of software work that needs to be done. We said: 'Let’s spend this year into next year getting the software right.’”
Thus far, TI’s chip sets are embedded in Motorola and Arris EMTAs rolled out by Time Warner Cable and Cablevision Systems Corp. Both MSOs and the EMTA vendors give TI feedback on what they want in next-generation chip sets, and that information has been built into the Puma IV product line, according to Rauschmayer.