The digital video broadcasting (DVB) standard has

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					INFORMATION COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGY




SETTING THE STANDARD
THE FUTURE OF SET-TOP BOXES

THE PERSONAL COMPUTER IS STILL CLOSELY CONNECTED TO THE OFFICE AND WORK ENVIRONMENT.
AT HOME, FUTURE TV SETS WILL HAVE ACCESS TO MANY PC SERVICES INCLUDING INTERNET ACCESS,
SHOPPING, ENTERTAINMENT SERVICES, DIGITAL PICTURE, MUSIC AND MOVIE MANAGEMENT, GAMES
AND SUBSEQUENTLY THE CONTROL OF HOUSEHOLD APPLIANCES. THUS, THE SET-TOP BOX BECOMES
THE EQUIVALENT OF THE PERSONAL COMPUTER, BUNDLING A VARIETY OF APPLICATIONS FOR HOME
AND FAMILY, ENRICHED BY AN UNRIVALLED EASE-OF-USE.

        he digital video broadcasting (DVB) standard has


T       revolutionised the world of television since it was introduced
        10 years ago. Due to the digitisation of broadcast signals, an
ever increasing selection of programmes and services can be
received by viewers worldwide. In many respects, today’s set-top
boxes are similar to personal computers; consequently, the TV set is
evolving into a home entertainment centre.
    Galaxis has been a pioneer in digital TV technology since 1996,
and has developed a variety of set-top boxes for several pay-TV
operators and free-to-air markets. The products are marketed in
Europe, the Middle East and India. As a member of the DVB project,
the company possesses competency regarding standards for the
transmission and reception of digital TV. For years it has acted as
an active contributor to the specification and standardisation of an
interoperable digital television platform that is now being deployed
throughout the world.
    Its product portfolio offers the right device to fulfil every
customer need with respect to technology, design and operation.
The product range relies on a profound knowledge of technological
developments, market requirements and already anticipated
customer demand. Galaxis products are characterised by their easy
and intuitive on-screen navigation and their competitive price-
performance ratio.


PRODUCT OFFERING
     The company offers a wide range of products, from the cost-
efficient digital receiver up to the fully equipped personal video
recorder (PVR). The connectivity and capability of the main
processor is aligned with the primary requirements of the user: from
simply watching TV to operating a multimedia entertainment system
in the living room. The design of the product line reflects the
consumer’s wish to acquire a device that seamlessly integrates into
the home interior and reflects the user’s lifestyle.
     Due to market fragmentation (especially in Europe), the
company’s product portfolio, which is modular, incorporates
component systems to combine several set-top box chipsets with
different real-time operating systems, middleware solutions,



54      ICT ASIA
                                                                                   INFORMATION COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGY




software applications and return channel technologies. Depending               The LinuxTV middleware is a modular application library for
on the business models of digital television service providers and        digital television receivers. The stable, robust and scaleable
broadcasters, the company fulfills various requirements for               software architecture can be used for pay TV, video-on-demand and
conditional access systems (CA) and distribution channels. Its            interactive television as well as internet- and DSL-based
digital decoders support digital video broadcast over satellite,          applications. LinuxTV builds upon a resource management layer for
cable, terrestrial and IP networks.                                       the rapid integration of basic DVB and TV functionality on the most
     With its portfolio of intellectual property, Galaxis is entering a   actual release of the Linux operating system.
new field of TV technology that has been restricted to X86 (PC)-              The LinuxTV middleware provides a variety of functionality
based devices until today; the transmission of audio and video            necessary for integration of advanced set-top box applications – for
content via IP networks according to the DVB over IP standard is          example, recording and playback on the hard drive (personal video
now available.                                                            recorder) and DVD playback. The software modules are compatible
     Rapid hardware and software design services are provided for         with a number of peripherals and interfaces, including USB, ethernet,
any set of embedded hardware, including various chipsets based on         common interface modules, smart card readers, AC 3, internet routing,
ARM, MIPS, PowerPC or X86 architecture. Furthermore, the                  etc. A variety of multimedia codes (MPEG2 hardware and software
company incorporates a broad range of hardware components,                decoders, several MPEG 4 profiles, voice codes) are supported.
including digital television tuners, power supplies and input devices          Specific user interfaces on the TV screen and interactive data
provided by well-known suppliers.                                         services by the broadcasters ease the viewer’s navigation of the
     Its modular software architecture supports a large variety of        programmes offered. Integrated storage media (hard disk and DVD)
memory devices, multiple tuners, modems and other audio/video             enable consumers to record, manage and replay television, radio
ICs. This provides flexibility for production and the ability to react    and MP3 content. LinuxTV contains an intuitive, theme-able and
quickly to market movements with regard to availability and price.        extensible graphical user interface, which typifies detailed menu
     A single software repository handles the whole range of              structures (for channel navigation, control and playback of
hardware components needed for the different product platforms.           recordings, etc.), and a versatile programme guide.
The software build system detects the components of the target                 The company greatly benefits from the efficient and easy
hardware and automatically loads the relevant drivers during the          porting of its middleware and the integration of interactive
software booting process. Because of this modularity, the                 applications on any hardware. In turn, by selecting products based
development cycle of the company’s products is drastically                upon LinuxTV middleware, digital television service providers will be
accelerated.                                                              able to deliver the latest advanced interactive services more quickly
     One of Galaxis’ core software technologies is DirectFB, a sub        and less expensively.
system for all graphics and input-related parts on DSP-based                   Multimedia home platform (MHP), another successful DVB
digital media processors. DirectFB provides a set of 2D facilities        standard for broadcast and interactive services, defines a generic
like alpha blending in combination with alpha or colour                   interface between interactive digital applications and the terminals
modulation using the texture mapping unit of the underlying               on which those applications execute. This interface decouples
graphics hardware. With the recent addition of hardware                   different providers’ applications from the specific hardware and
accelerated OpenGL, DirectFB also enables hardware accelerated            software details of different MHP terminal implementations. It
3D operations.                                                            enables digital content providers to address all types of terminals
   DirectFB can be used for all user interface-based appliances,          ranging from low-end to high-end set-top boxes, integrated digital
including set-top-boxes, game consoles, 3G mobile phones and              TV sets and multimedia PCs.
industrial control panels. This technology enables chipset                     Galaxis has developed a powerful implementation of the DVB
manufacturers to match their graphic engines to an open standard          MHP standard for digital television applications. Its MHP stack
for software acceleration in order to increase performance and            excels in its low memory footprint and its competitive licensing cost
reduce cost.                                                              by using the Java virtual machine of IBM. To facilitate third-party
                                                                          application development, it has designed an MHP software
USING LINUX                                                               developer kit to support creation, testing, debugging and validation
     The company has developed and defined a standard application         of MHP applications.
programming interface (API): the Linux DVB API, which is a part of             The MHP technology opens the worldwide market to run Java-
the official Linux kernel. Chipset manufacturers benefit by the           based applications on set-top boxes. Galaxis promotes MHP and is
availability of a clear roadmap for supplying Linux-based device          among the first companies already offering receivers that deploy the
driver support, and can expect shorter time-to-market for their API-      MHP standard. ■
enabled hardware solutions. Middleware vendors benefit from more
efficient and easier porting of middleware solutions and integration         For more information, please visit the following websites: Digital Video Broadcast
                                                                             Project (www.dvb.org); Galaxis (www.galaxis.com); DirectFB (www.directfb.org);
of interactive applications. The Linux DVB API has helped to                 Linux DVB API (www.linuxtv.org/developer/dvbapi.xml); MHP (www.mhp.org);
                                                                             MHP4FREE (www.mhp4free.com); www.convergence.de. LinuxTV is a registered
leverage open software solutions for digital television and builds           trademark of Galaxis.
upon the work of software developers worldwide.



                                                                                                                                            ICT ASIA              55

				
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Description: The digital video broadcasting (DVB) standard has