Microtune New CMOS Silicon Tuner Family Invigorates Cable's Multi-Tuner Set-Tops

Monday, October 18th, 2010 

New Silicon Architecture Integrates Tuner-Splitter Functions to Slash RF Bill-of Materials Cost and Design Complexity; New Chips Will Be Demonstrated at SCTE Cable-Tec Expo® This Week at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans, LA

PLANO, Texas — SCTE Cable-Tec Expo 2010 — Microtune®, Inc. (NASDAQ: TUNE) today announced three new universal digital QAM cable tuners that are engineered to deliver very high radio frequency (RF) performance, to simplify designs and to slash bill-of-materials (BOM) cost for the worldwide cable set-top box market.

Based on a highly integrated, sawless, tuner-plus-splitter architecture, the new MicroTuner™ MT208X tuner family is optimized to deliver superior digital video quality and reliability across global multi-tuner set-tops, including next-generation HD/DVR boxes, video hubs, digital cable gateways and home media servers. When built into cable premises equipment (CPE), the tuners enable cable operators to offer the interactive, personalized video services – HD, on-demand, time-shifted and downloaded video – expected to drive cable revenue and subscriber growth during the next years.

“Competitive pressure and evolving consumer preferences make video more strategic than ever for the cable industry, and cable operators are invigorating their video service offerings with new HD options and on-demand choices,” said Barry F. Koch, Executive Vice President of Microtune. “Operators are evaluating new approaches for set-top box platforms, but they are consistent in their demand for advanced technology that can deliver a full-featured, compelling TV experience at low cost. Our new MT208X family provides the ideal high-performance, cost-optimized RF solution, and it can be flexibly implemented across a broad range of worldwide set-tops boxes.”

New Cable Tuners Demonstrated At SCTE Cable-Tec

This week, the new cable tuners will be featured in a multi-tuner design and demonstrated at Microtune’s booth (Booth 525) during SCTE’s Cable-Tec Expo at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, October 20-22, 2010 in New Orleans, LA.

In its booth, Microtune will also feature consumer-end products that showcase the leading edge in consumer cable equipment–DOCSIS® 3.0 cable modems, DOCSIS 3.0 wireless gateways, EMTAs, HD/DVR set-top boxes, video hubs, and digital cable set-top boxes.

Three Tuners In New MT208X Family

The MT208X family consists of two companion tuners, the MT2082 and MT2084 for dual- and triple-tuner architectures, and the MT2081 for low-cost single-tuner designs.

  • The MT2082 is a high-performance tuner with an integrated loop-through amplifier and an active 3-way splitter. It divides, conditions and amplifies an RF signal for two additional tuners in a multi-tuner set-top box design. The MT2082 allows for dual- or triple-tuner designs that eliminate the requirement for external active components, while ensuring equal levels of performance at each tuner output. The unique tuner front-end architecture supports the same sensitivity and linearity performance across all three tuners. It contrasts with other RF configurations that offer reduced levels of performance as each tuner is added in a multi-tuner cascade.
  • The companion MT2084 tuner accepts its RF input from the MT2082 and maintains very high signal quality. Together, the MT2082 and MT2084 eliminate RF splitter, amplifier and power-supply components that are needed in current multi-tuner set-top box designs. They simplify designs, enabling engineers to reduce design cycles. They offer an ease-of-use and very small external BOM that virtually eliminate the need for specialized RF expertise typically required when designing a multi-tuner set-top using RF components.
  • With an integrated RF loop-through amplifier, the MT2081 is a single-tuner option that is ideal for basic set-top boxes, including zapper boxes, digital conversion boxes, digital transport adaptors (DTAs), cable modems and low-cost entry level products. As with the other tuners in the family, the MT2081 offers a combination of high levels of integration with a very small external BOM to reduce the specialized RF expertise typically needed to design a single-tuner set-top box or cable modem.

World Standard Support And Real-World RF Performance

Each tuner in the family supports worldwide cable and TV standards (NorDig Unified DVB-C, DVB-T, and DVB-T2, as well as SARFT GD/J12-2007, RNG/DSG, SCTE40, DOCSIS, EuroDOCSIS™ and ISDB-T) and is compatible with ITU-T J.83 Annex A/B/C QAM performance requirements.

Additionally, the tuners are designed to meet the even more severe operator-imposed requirements of real-world network environments, delivering a clear, consistent signal even under the most challenging digital cable conditions. For U.S. applications, the tuners support tilted and sloped conditions common in fully loaded, high-bandwidth networks. For applications in China, they manage both the high undesired-to-desired channel ratios and weak-strong signal problems in the interference-prone cable networks of the various provinces. The MT2081 and MT2082 also offer a loop-through feature, engineered to meet stringent NorDig Unified requirements and to enable the reception of analog transmissions.

Key Features And Performance Characteristics

The MT208X family is characterized by the following product features:

  • Triple tuner plus loop-through without external active components
  • Integrated RF splitter for multi-tuner applications
  • One single crystal required for multi-tuner applications
  • Support for variable channel bandwidths (1.7 to 8 MHz programmable)
  • Support for power reporting without the need for demodulator interaction
  • Single-point calibration for Received Signal Strength Indication (RSSI)
  • Excellent multi-tone performance
  • Outstanding large signal-handling capabilities

Price And Availability

Offered in a small 6 mm x 6 mm 40 pin Quad Flat No-Lead (QFN) package, the MT208X CMOS tuners are sampling now and are priced at sub $2.00 in high volume. To simplify evaluation and design for qualified customers, Microtune offers a series of MT208X evaluation boards and reference designs for digital cable set-top box and modem products.