Hitachi Optimizes Audio Visual Storage Manager

Wednesday, January 9th, 2008
Broadcom logo

Added Flexibility Allows Streaming Media Software Technology to be Tuned for High Performance and Lower Hard Drive Utilization; Hitachi Completes AVSM Integration and Testing on Broadcom® STB/DVR Platforms

CONSUMER ELECTRONICS SHOW 2007, LAS VEGAS — Hitachi Global Storage Technologies (Hitachi GST) today announced a number of design enhancements to its AVSM™ (Audio-Visual Storage Manager) software technology, including compatibility with Broadcom Corporation’s set-top box (STB) and digital video recorder (DVR) system-on-chip (SoCs) solutions. Broadcom is an industry leader in SoCs that simplify the development and manufacturing of high performance STBs/DVRs. Hitachi’s AVSM software has now been fully integrated and tested on Broadcom platforms. Hitachi also announced today that in addition to systems using 3.5-inch hard drives, manufacturers can now use AVSM in conjunction with “slim” or “small form factor” STBs/DVRs using 2.5-inch drives. The compact systems generally have lower power requirements, generate less heat and have a lower bill of materials cost as well as lower shipping costs.

AVSM is designed to seamlessly manage the mix of high-definition video streaming and best-effort file operations, such as electronic program guides or background IPTV downloads present in STB applications. Through “smart” hard drive management, AVSM reduces disk drive duty cycle by up to 60 percent and eliminates file system fragmentation, ultimately helping to extend the life of the hard drive and host STB system and improve the user experience.

Today’s consumers increasingly use their digital cable and satellite set-top boxes to record high-definition programs and stream digital media from the Internet, and they want that content available throughout the house. However, recording and playing back a high number of multiple programs, or streams, can place greater demands on the hard drive and the conventional STB file system.

The AVSM enhancements being unveiled at CES 2008 provide systems manufacturers the flexibility to tune AVSM for high performance and lower hard drive utilization. By scaling back on performance to optimize for low power, systems manufacturers can reduce disk drive power consumption by approximately 10 %. The resulting power savings translates to a hard drive top cover temperature decrease of 3 degrees and STBs/DVRs with substantially lower cooling requirements.

Hitachi has extended AVSM to support STBs/DVRs using 2.5-inch hard drives, which are growing in popularity, due to their small size and significantly lower power consumption. In many cases, 2.5-inch drives require only one third of the power of a typical 3.5-inch drive. Additionally, STB/DVR systems that use 2.5-inch drives usually have lower shipping costs and a lower bill of materials cost, because of the smaller enclosure, power supplies, and potential elimination of active cooling systems, etc.

“With an ever increasing need for storage to support the connected digital home, this technology increases the flexibility and reliability for STB manufacturers, while offering ways to reduce energy use,” said Nicholas Dunn, Director of Marketing for Broadcom’s Satellite Set-Top Box line of business. “We are thrilled that Hitachi chose to work with Broadcom to first implement and demonstrate this technology.”

“Smart” Hard Drive Management

To address the heavy demands on the HDD, AVSM gives the STB system the ability to distinguish between streaming applications (movies, streaming media) and best-effort, non-real-time applications (electronic program guide, IPTV download, photo viewing). This helps to maintain quality of service (QoS) and protect against file system fragmentation. The AVSM software suite currently comprises a streaming file system and sophisticated I/O scheduler and ultimately makes hard drives work “smarter”. It handles the multiple HDTV streams present in multi-room households and optimizes disk access scheduling to help maximize HDD performance.

Simply put, AVSM promotes:

  • Exceptional hard drive reliability and longer STB service life by lowering hard disk drive duty cycle and protecting system integrity;
  • Improved QoS and highly-predictable performance in multi-stream STB applications through the elimination of file system fragmentation and related performance degradation;
  • Easy integration with multi-vendor support, minimal system footprint and no additional hardware resource requirement on the STB;
  • Ability to manage up to 4-6 HDTV (19.3Mb/s) streams from one 2.5-inch HDD and many more from a 3.5-inch HDD. AVSM enables 2.5-inch drives to sustain the typical streaming media requirements of today’s STB/DVRs.