TIs New Silicon Chip Gives Cable a Voice


Helped in part by a number of acquisitions, Texas Instruments Inc. has launched a set of silicon-based, voice-enabled cable-modem technologies based on the Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification 1.1 standard.

TI said its new chip "solution" features its "TNETC4320" communications processor as well as its "TNETC4042" DOCSIS physical layer, media- access controller and Voice-over-Internet protocol software, which it acquired through the purchase of Telogy Networks Inc.

TI said it expects to offer the system in sample quantities next month, and to reach mass production by the second quarter of next year.

The technology is meant to help cable operators make the move from a best-effort data service to one that adds quality of service and voice to the mix. That will enable operators to provide bundled services across all market segments, such as primary-line telephony for residential gateways, secondary-line telephony for voice-enabled cable modems, and multiline offerings for multiple dwelling units (MDUs), the company said.

The company's communications processor also will handle home-networking protocols such as 802.11b and the Home Phoneline Networking Alliance (HomePNA), said Eric Dewanain, general manager of TI's cable broadband communications division.

TI also bolstered its support for the Bluetooth platform recently when it cut a deal to integrate Jungo Software Technologies Inc.'s residential-gateway software. Demonstrated at the Western Show, TI's Bluetooth-enabled cable modem reference design uses Jungo's "OpenRG," a software platform that runs over the Linux operating system.

The reference design also provides security features such as a firewall for virtual private networks, which are growing in popularity as telecommuting becomes more common.

The addition to TI's product line comes as it is trying to carve deeper into a market typically dominated by Broadcom Corp.

At last week's Western Show, TI-which sells its chips to companies such as Toshiba Corp.-estimated that it would deliver 3 million of the nearly 10 million DOCSIS chips shipped this year. That figure would mark 600 percent growth in TI's market share in that arena versus a year ago.

There should be plenty of room for Broadcom, TI and other cable-modem chip players in the years to come. Worldwide cable-modem shipments could reach as high as 30 million units by the end of 2004, according to Gartner Dataquest projections, which anticipate strong growth in Asia/Pacific countries.