New Chip Tuner Supports All Analog and DTV Formats

Xceieve, a Santa Clara, Calif.-based developer of TV tuner chips, this week launched its XC4000 series of chip tuners that target DTVs as well as the hybrid PC-TV market.

The tuners are both pin and BOM (bill of materials) compatible with the popular XC3000 series of tuners used in USB ATSC tuners such as the Hauppauge HVR-950. As with other Xceive tuners, the XC4000 offers Xceive's QuickTune technology, allowing a complete scan of over 100 channels in less than two seconds. Based on my experience with ATSC tuners using the XC3000 series tuners, this rapid scanning hasn't been implemented for ATSC channels, as it is necessary to completely demodulate the ATSC signal to pull out the virtual channel table and/or the program map table needed to display all the services available on an ATSC channel.

Jean-Louis Bories, president and CEO of Xceive, said, "The XC4000 meets and exceeds all performance measurements of the typical premium can tuner with the added features of an ultra-small footprint, reliability, and unique functionality." Signal-to-noise ratio and phase-noise (-85 dBc) specifications are said to match can tuners while offering a lower noise figure (5 dB typical) and higher AGC range (90 dB).

Vish Nayak, vice president of TV and Display Electronics at DisplaySearch said, "The industry is in need of a hybrid TV tuner that successfully addresses value, performance, size and multistandard challenges in a single integrated tuner. Fortunately, TV tuners, such as Xceive's newly announced XC4000 silicon tuner, are designed to provide the best-in-class performance through the addition of next generation features and capabilities like an on-board DSP controller, quick channel scan, multiPIP functionality and the ability to support worldwide television standards."

The XC4000 series product brief shows a block diagram of the chip tuner. It includes a tunable front-end filter, variable gain low noise amplifier and notch filter before the single mixer. The output of the mixer goes to a band pass filter, a variable gain amplifier and an A/D converter before being applied to a digital signal processor driving two D/A converters and an AGC output. I was not able to find more detailed technical information on the Xceive Web site; it appears an external demodulator is needed for DTV reception. The EVP Universal Evaluation Platform lists demodulators from LG, ATI, Intel and Samsung as working with the XC3000 and XC5000 series tuners. Because the XC4000 series was just launched, it is likely the EVP will eventually support several demodulators, especially since the XC4000 is touted as compatible with the XC3000 series.

Samples are available now. Production quantities will begin shipping in the third quarter of 2007.