04 Jan 2005 | Geneva

New DVB-S2 Demodulator from STMicroelectronics Uses Cost-Efficient 90nm Technology and Offers a Seamless Upgrade Path for Satellite Set-Top Boxes

ST now offers STB manufacturers all the major components of a DVB-S2 Set-top Box, including silicon tuner, demodulator and a wide range of MPEG-2 decoders Geneva / 04 Jan 2005

Geneva, January 4, 2005 - STMicroelectronics (NYSE: STM), the world's leading supplier of silicon chips for set-top boxes (STBs)*, today announces the STB0899 DVB-S2 Demodulator. The new device supports both the latest DVB-S2 specification - which provides increased capacity to enable more channels and HDTV capability in next generation satellite services - and the original DVB-S standard used over the last ten years by satellite operators worldwide. The dual standard capability means that STB manufacturers can incorporate the STB0899 now in 'DVB-S2-ready' set-top boxes, to provide a seamless upgrade path for consumers as services become available.

DVB-S2 increases the capacity of satellite communications links by 30% compared to the DVB-S standard - close to the theoretical performance limit - and in combination with other new coding and satellite technologies will enable the effective deployment of high data-rate applications such as HDTV (High Definition TV), broadband Internet and interactive services, as well as a significant increase in the number of standard channels that can be broadcast in a conventional transponder. Interactive services in particular are expected to show substantial growth in the coming years.

The new demodulator is designed to integrate seamlessly with silicon tuners such as ST's STB6100, which replaces complex traditional discrete tuner circuitry and eliminates the need for specialist RF design expertise. For downstream processing the STB0899 also offers a cost-saving glueless interface to ST's broad range of MPEG-2 & H.264 decoders in the OMEGA family. ST now offers STB manufacturers all of the major silicon components of a DVB-S2 set-top box.

The STB0899 is built using a state-of-the-art 90nm process technology, ensuring lower cost through the need for a smaller sized die, and reduced power consumption; additional software-based power management features are built in to help STB manufacturers obtain green accreditation. It supports normal QPSK (quadrature-phase-shift-keying) and 8PSK modulation, as well as the DVB-S2 pilot processing that enables more robust reception.

Support is provided for the DiSEqC 2.0 (Digital Satellite Equipment Control) specification, a widely used protocol that allows a satellite STB to control peripheral devices connected to the coaxial cable. Extensions to the DiSEqC open standard were recently proposed by ST, and adopted by the industry, that enable the STB to manage the rooftop LNB (Low-Noise Block) downconverter and simplify installations needing to handle more than one signal. Up to eight input signals can be combined onto a single coaxial cable.

ST was closely involved with the DVB (Digital Video Broadcasting) technical groups working to optimize the DVB-S2 specification, and in May 2004 announced the development of a modulator design for broadcast equipment which it is licencing to manufacturers working with the new standard, to enable them to introduce equipment capable of broadcasting DVB-S2 signals and so to 'kick-start' the market for DVB-S2 services and receivers.

"ST's DVB expertise spans both broadcast technology and set-top box receivers," said Christos Lagomichos, General Manager of ST's Home Entertainment Group. "The STB0899 is the final piece of the receiver jigsaw. ST now offers manufacturers a complete family of DVB-S2 chips for all the main STB functions, including tuner, demodulator and a range of back end decoders. Our customers can bring products to the market now that are ready for the new standard as it's introduced by the satellite operators, and can respond to demands from consumers to maximize their investment in home entertainment systems."

The DVB-S standard now used by satellite operators worldwide for television broadcasts and data transmission was first ratified in 1994. The DVB-S2 specification - which was finally agreed by the technical groups in the spring of 2004 - benefits from developments in channel coding and modulation to provide a 30% increase in capacity; very close to the so-called 'Shannon Limit' which describes the maximum possible efficiency of the error-correcting methods. As well as the normal QPSK (quadrature-phase-shift-keying) modulation of DVB-S, DVB-S2 allows for 3 bits per symbol using 8PSK modulation, at approximately 80-Mbit/s information rate, with Low Density Parity Check (LDPC) as the Forward Error Correction code.

The STB0899 is priced at US$12 when purchased in large volumes, packaged in a 100-pin exposed pad quad flat pack (QFP), and is available in sample quantities, with volume production planned for Q1 2005.

About STMicroelectronics
STMicroelectronics is a global leader in developing and delivering semiconductor solutions across the spectrum of microelectronics applications. An unrivalled combination of silicon and system expertise, manufacturing strength, Intellectual Property (IP) portfolio and strategic partners positions the Company at the forefront of System-on-Chip (SoC) technology and its products play a key role in enabling today's convergence markets. The Company's shares are traded on the New York Stock Exchange, on Euronext Paris and on the Milan Stock Exchange. In 2003, the Company's net revenues were $7.24 billion and net earnings were $253 million. Further information on ST can be found at www.st.com.

* InStat/MDR - MPEG Video IC Market: Larger than Ever - June 2003 (Report number IN030573MI) iSuppli 2001 Consumer Electronics Semiconductors: Market Share and Supplier Analysis

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