Sorry, I couldn’t resist the iPhone joke in the title. More seriously, I’m sure TiVo is working on the next generation of product. The TiVo Premiere Elite ships Monday, or so it seems. But it takes months, even a year or more at times, to bring a new TiVo model to market. It just takes time to go from initial concept to iterations of design and test, then alpha testing, beta testing, and finally release. So I’d be surprised of TiVo wasn’t working on the next generation box, at least at a conceptual level. And, joking aside, I expect it will be labeled as a Series4 even if a new platform.
So why the post? Well, a couple of weeks ago I posted about the folks at TiVo Community spotting the new 16.x software. User brentil was doing more digging, and he found something very interesting. First up, it looks like TiVo is working toward enabling SMP – symmetric multi-processing, aka dual-core support.
For the geeks, in \arch\mips\tivo\Gen07C\setup.c, which appears to be used for the Premiere Elite/Q, believed to be code named ‘Gimbal’:
if (!strstr(arcs_cmdline, "maxcpus="))
/* forcing to 1 CPU until SMP is fully debugged */
strncat(arcs_cmdline, " maxcpus=1", CL_SIZE - 1 - strlen(arcs_cmdline));
brentil determined that, as the BCM7413 is derived from the BCM7405D uses the same settings, which set CONFIG_SMP=Y. However, it seems the Gen07 (Premiere) and Gen07P(Preview, believed to be code named Picasso) do not have this code. Could they be further along in debugging SMP on those units? Curious, but not the real find.
The real find is this, in the Gen7C/P Makefile is:
# Makefile for BCM97125A0 board (includes 7019 family)
In the Gen7 Makefile is a copy & paste of the Gen06 Makefile, which mentions the BCM97401C0 – the TiVo HD’s chipset.
Why is this interesting? The BCM7125 is one of Broadcom’s loaded chips, and quite a chip it is.
The Broadcom BCM7125 is a single-chip, multi-format HD cable STB solution featuring high levels of integration including an integrated Multimedia over Coax Alliance (MoCA®) 1.1 core, HD AVC, dual 1GHz cable tuners and HD DOCSIS 2.0 compatible modems with 3.0 channel bonding over 4 downstream channels. This level of integration and performance enables worldwide service providers to offer the latest in connectivity, HDTV programming and advanced 3D user interfaces to their subscribers while significantly reducing power requirements, complexity and overall bill of materials (BOM) cost.
Integrated MoCA technology enables service providers to deploy whole-home digital media distribution and connected TV services such as multi-room DVR. The BCM7125 allows multiple users to store, time shift or access content from media servers or residential gateways for playback on STBs anywhere in the home, driving the transition to a more connected and interactive home network environment.
Now, it might seem like this means the TiVo Premiere Elite and TiVo Preview are using this chip – after all, they have MoCA. But I don’t think so, because we know that Entropic is providing the MoCA hardware for these units. And it wouldn’t make sense for TiVo to be using an external MoCA chipset if the SoC supported MoCA. It’d be a wasted expense.
Now, there is also a BCM7119 which is basically the BCM7125 without MoCA. It could be they’re using it and the reference board is the same. But why use that and an Entropic MoCA chip instead of just using the 7125? That’s added complexity and cost. Both Broadcom chips also include built-in cable modems and DLNA support. And there’s also no indication that either unit has a built-in cable modem or DLNA. We won’t know for sure until someone gets the Elite and does some hands-on investigation work to find out what chip it is using.
Could the Elite and Preview be using one of these chips? It is possible. TiVo could be hiding a few tricks up their sleeve with a dormant cable modem and DLNA support that they can turn on later. DOCSIS support could allow for DSG – DOCSIS Set-top Gateway – support, which is used for communication with the head end for things like OnDemand and SDV. And DLNA could be how they’ll support whole-home applications. Anything is possible, but if so they’ve managed to keep a pretty tight lid on the info.
But it could also be that these chips are the foundation for another generation. With built in DOCSIS support and MoCA it could be especially appealing to MSO partners. It would give a unit capabilities similar to the Virgin Media TiVo in the UK, with a dedicated channel for apps and IP delivered content.
So this is certainly tantalizing info. Who knows, it could be a red herring, some artifact of an earlier development branch that was abandoned. Perhaps TiVo was thinking of using the BCM7125 but opted for a different solution, and the comment in the code never got updated. But that’s the pessimistic view, and I prefer to be optimistic. If it isn’t the Elite, perhaps it’ll be the next generation.