MaxLinear Cuts Power and Size of Cable Gateways with New Dual-Channel Tuner and QAM Demod IC

Thursday, November 4th, 2010 
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MxL251 Replaces Two Tuners & Two Demodulators In Gateway Designs That Feature up to Six Channels; Digital CMOS Technology Delivers Low Power and Small Size

CARLSBAD, Calif. — MaxLinear Inc., (NYSE: MXL) a leading provider of integrated radio frequency (RF) and mixed-signal integrated circuits for broadband communication applications, today announced the MxL251, a cable TV front end chip with dual tuners and dual QAM demodulators that cuts in half the number of tuners needed for multi-channel DOCSIS and cable video gateways.

Many of today’s cable video set-top-box and emerging gateway designs feature up to four or even six dedicated video channels. These devices require a multiple tuner-demodulator (also called an MPEG tuner) IC.

Developed in standard digital 65nm digital CMOS process, the MxL251 is a single-die digital front-end chip with two narrow-band RF tuners (6 or 8MHz), two QAM demodulators and an integrated splitter to support dual- or triple tuner designs. The device supports all global cable standards including ITU-T J.83 Annex A/B/C. The tuner can receive one RF coaxial cable input and delivers two MPEG transport stream outputs or two channels on an intermediate frequency (IF) output. The integration of discrete tuners, demodulators, external RF splitter and loop through elements significantly reduce PCB board size, external component costs, and vastly simplifies design.

The new part replaces the popular MxL241SF – which was the industry’s first single-die, integrated tuner and QAM demodulator “CMOS MPEG Tuner” IC – in these applications with the same advanced performance and features, but with reduced power consumption and board space requirements. No other frontend chip allows for the low power and compact designs achievable with the MxL251.

The MxL251 is packaged in a compact 7mm x 7mm 48-pin QFN package and consumes 700mW of power for the combined two channel reception mode, along with a battery operation mode of 350mW, which allows manufacturers to provide only two battery cells for back up instead of three or four cells with current implementations.

“The MxL251 once again shows the advantages of MaxLinear’s core wideband CMOS RF-mixed signal IC technology platform, which is ideally suited for developing the lowest power and smallest size RF-demodulator multiple-channel SoC solutions that deliver industry-leading functionality and performance,” said Kishore Seendripu, MaxLinear’s CEO. “The front end chip is one of the most important components in a gateway, and the MxL251, with its integration of discrete ICs and expensive external discrete components on the PCB, along with significant size reductions can unleash new creativity in gateway design and price.”

With its ultra-low power consumption, the MxL251 has no special heat dissipation requirements, which saves cost on fans, heat shields, heat sinks, etc. This also helps designers to meet the system power consumption levels needed to comply with the U.S. Energy Star code of conduct for both standby and operating modes.

In Oct. 2010, MaxLinear announced another member of its cable frontend family, the MxL261, a dual-tuner, quad demodulator digital cable front end chip with the ability to capture eight channels in a 200MHz input frequency bandwidth located in the cable spectrum. The MxL251 rounds out the cable product family and is pin-compatible with the MxL261.

The MxL251 is sampling today and will be generally available in the second quarter of 2011.