STMicroelectronics Inc. has licensed Turbo Code forward error-correction technology from France Telecom, and plans to introduce integrated set-top box devices that will allow digital satellite TV providers to as much as double existing channel capacity.
ST is sampling a discrete device that incorporates the Turbo Code technology, and plans to begin sampling a device that integrates the technology with its STV0399 satellite front-end chip by September. Production is expected by early next year.
"Everyone is working on a Turbo Code core, but we believe we are the first to demonstrate a solution today," said Christos Lagomichos, group vice president for wideband at ST in Carrollton, Texas. "Service providers want to improve the efficiency of their assets. One way is to send into orbit more satellites, but that is very expensive. This technology can optimize the existing infrastructure of satellites."
The use of Turbo Code would allow each satel lite transponder to deliver from six to eight standard TV channels, or two HDTV channels, compared with four or five standard TV channel or one HDTV channel with existing technology, Lagomichos said.
Turbo Code would also provide the service companies with increased total bandwidth, which could be used to improve Internet downloads. The technology would also allow the providers to reduce the size of satellite dishes by as much as 30%, he said.
A chip designed by France Telecom in cooperation with ST has been produced at ST's plant in Crolles, France. The STV0399 is ST's third-generation satellite front-end chip, and supports the emerging 8-PSK modulation scheme, which in combination with Turbo Code, will allow for increased data transmissions.
The STV0399 will include both an internal conventional error-correction circuit and an interface to the external Turbo Code chip, the STV0399-TC. A fourth-generation device, the STV0499, which integrates the Turbo code function on chip, is scheduled for 20 01.