Sigma Design's 'ultra thin' TV box design promises HD in a tiny package

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Sigma Design's 'ultra thin' TV box design promises HD in a tiny package
It's not much bigger than many of the wall warts currently filling outlets in your power strip, but this reference design from Sigma Designs could be your next cable box. With HomePlug networking, Z-Wave RF remote control technology and the ability to process multiple 1080p streams at once built in, it only needs to be plugged in to the wall (and connected to a TV via HDMI) to get to work. connect to the network and pull in video from the internet, feeds from an IPTV provider like U-Verse (or Comcast eventually), or multiroom streams from a connected DVR. At its heart is the SMP8670 chip unveiled at CES that's optimized for XBMC, Adobe AIR and Flash which could make it an ideal extender for someone like TiVo or Boxee, if Sigma can get them to bite on the concept. Until then, all we can show you are a few pics of the bare internals in the gallery and a press release after the break.
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Reference Design Integrates Media Processing, Home Connectivity and Home Control Technologies Creating a New Class of High Performance, Ultra-Thin Set-Top Box

Milpitas, CA -- June 20, 2011 -- Sigma Designs, the world leader in connected media platforms, is poised to energize the set-top-box market by unveiling the industry's most advanced set-top box design, enabling an experience only found in devices that are combined with networking gateways. Sigma Designs will supercharge this growing market of set-top-boxes by enabling these products to stream high-definition content from the Web, in 1080p, via networking through the AC power adapter, all in a device so small that it fits behind consumers' TVs.

"Service providers are looking for ways to cut costs while improving the consumer experience," said Thinh Tran, chairman and CEO at Sigma Designs. "With the Sigma ultra-thin, telcos and cable companies can enable users to self-install their set top box for dramatically reduced deployment costs. Just as importantly, this high performance solution delivers more reliable quality of service, a form factor consumers' love and the biggest ecosystem of interoperable home control products to control."

Sigma Designs ultra-thin reference platform is unlike existing set-top boxes. This revolutionary self-installable ultra-thin design doesn't require a power cord; it plugs directly into AC power outlets for easy installation by consumers and uses Sigma's award-winning HomePlug AV with ClearPath for the most reliable networking over the home's electrical wiring. With a state-of-the-art media processor, this new platform decodes multiple HD IPTV streams and connects to a HDTV through a simple HDMI connector.

The new system also integrates Z-Wave RF technology for the most advanced remote control functionality. With Z-Wave, the ultra-thin can be placed out of sight, behind the TV or in a cabinet without affecting its functionality and can be used to control not only the TV, but also over 500 available Z-Wave devices including the lighting, door locks, thermostats and more. This is the first design of its kind to weave together the comprehensive functionalities and necessary processing power to address most every need for the consumer to control their connected home.

Sigma Designs will make the fully integrated ultra-thin set-top box reference design available to service providers and their set-top equipment suppliers. These customers will have the advantage of quick time-to-market through these turnkey solutions, whereby they will have a single agreement and point of contact for direct support.

The new ultra-thin reference platform is the first in a series of Sigma-enabled solutions developed to support the needs of the ever evolving, feature-rich set-top box market. Its core technologies include:

** SMP8670 media processor
The SMP8670 is a new media processor targeted at thin-clients, optimized to run over-the-top application environments such as Adobe AIR for TV, Adobe Flash Player and other graphically rich environments. This new solution is 40% faster than previous Sigma thin-client solutions and dramatically improves the responsiveness of these new, advanced user interfaces. The SMP8670 is also very power efficient -- consuming 30% less power than previous versions.

** CG2110 HomePlug AV technology with ClearPath
Sigma's HomePlug AV with ClearPath is a breakthrough home networking technology that enables unprecedented, carrier-class streaming of HD video, voice and data over existing powerlines in the home. Sigma's award-winning platform uses all three wires -- phase, neutral and ground to deliver improved performance and up to twice the throughput. It is the only MIMO (multiple in, multiple out) solution currently available over powerline. Conforming to the universal HomePlug AV standard, Sigma's HomePlug AV with ClearPath has the unique ability to deliver triple play, whole-home DVR, HDTV and 3DTV to every power outlet within the home -- even within multi-phased homes, across surge protectors and through EMI filters.

** Z-Wave technology
Z-Wave is the leading technology for home control and energy management. Today, over 500 completely interoperable products worldwide from over 170 manufacturers support Z-Wave -- far more than rival technologies. The leading makers of lighting, thermostats, shade controls, door locks and more have created the broadest ecosystem of solutions. That is why ADT, Schlage, Verizon, Vivint and more all deploy home services based on Z-Wave.
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