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Old 07-24-2007, 11:07 AM   #1
HDTiVo
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Thumbs up TiVo HD Platform Wild Spec Thread

Like we need another thread.

Well, this one is specifically to consolidate what we know and will learn about the TiVo HD design and its potential capabilities, which seem to be significant over the S3, and to speculate from there.

Things like:
the transcoder chip 2115
the 3rd Sata connection
the analog input traces
etc.
There will necessarily be lots of dreaming and fantasizing, but let's also have a dose of practicality like cost and strategic business issues also.


Quote:

Partial Tivo HD Component List (TCD652160) - July 24
- Broadcom BCM7401 DVR CPU w/ integrated MPEG-2 and MPEG-4 decoders
- 256MB DDR400 SDRAM (4x NANYA NT5DS32M16BS-5U), for BCM7401
- 2x ATI Theater 314 based tuners
- 2x Philips/NXT SAA7138CHL ADCs
- VIXS XCode 2115 IC (CableCard interface + MP@ML encoder + MPEG-2/MPEG-4 SD->SD and HD->SD transcoders)
- 32MB DDR400 SDRAM (2x NT5DS8M16FS-5T) for VIXS XCode 2115 IC
- Xilinx Spartan-? FPGA
_________________________________________________________

The Transcoder Chip

ViXS 2115

No specs on it, but it may be between the 2111 (product sheet) and 2121 (product sheet)

Technology and Applications Links

Series 2100 Overview

Based on comments from TiVoPony, it is unlikely the TiVo version of the ViXS chip has any transcoding ability.
_________________________________________________________

The MPU & MPEG Decoder/Encoder (?)

Broadcom 7401

Broadcom Cable Solutions

The 7401 is listed as having an "HD analog encoder with simultaneous SD outputs" and "a dual stream analog video encoder..."

The 7401 is listed as 450DMIPS. The 7400 version is listed at 1000 DMIPS and shows a connection to a DVD-R/W drive.

___________________________________________________________

Encoders (?)

2x Philips/NXT SAA7138CHL ADCs

Can handle Analog RGB/YPbPr Component Video Input Including 480p/576p/
(note other chips models can handle 720p/1080i also)

http://www.nxp.com/acrobat_download/...7/75015903.pdf

___________________________________________________________

Xilinx Spartan-? FPGA

Weak peculation:
two-way signaling; DOCSIS;
MOCA

____________________________________________________________

Details of content flow through the hardware by bkdtv

____________________________________________________________

Helpful sources: Megazone, bkdtv

Last edited by HDTiVo : 09-10-2007 at 04:00 PM.
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Old 07-24-2007, 11:42 AM   #2
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Analog inputs: A TiVo box for satellite a la S2DT, 1080i component inputs.

I've already seen other ideas, 3rd sata port for HD-DVD/Bluray (managed copy), burner, etc.
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Old 07-24-2007, 12:52 PM   #3
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I think a TiVo with built in HD-DVD is probably the most likely scenario. The TiVo/Toshiba partnership has already produced a couple of S2/DVD combo units (one player, one recorder), seems plausible that the two might hook up again for a S3/HD-DVD unit. The big question would be whether the unit would allow playback only, or if it would also record HD-DVDs. I think the transcoder chip and hidden inputs would indicate that it would allow recording of HD-DVDs. However Cable Labs might not allow that, so we'll have to wait and see. (don't expect to hear anything else before CES 2008)

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Old 07-24-2007, 12:55 PM   #4
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The Broadcom 7401 lists letterbox detection as a feature. If that refers to something like automatically zooming LB material, I would love that. Its a nuisance dealing with 4x3 letterbox.

2100 Series lists MSDRM and Real DRM support. Hopefully a sign of protected WMV content availability - including HD!!!
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Old 07-24-2007, 01:01 PM   #5
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That transcoder chip is really interesting. Believe it or not some people (like me) may be seriously considering this box despite the lack of an HD display. In fact, even those with an HD display in their primary location may want something like this for their bedroom (where they may still have a SD display). Looks like that chip is capable of a realtime HD->SD conversion, which would save disc space for anyone not interested in HD but who want to use ATSC to get their locals. And of course it would in theory allow multiroom viewing with a Series2, even with an HD recording.
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Old 07-24-2007, 01:11 PM   #6
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Repost from this morning...

Official TivoHD Specifications (TCD652160)
  • Broadcom BCM7401 DVR CPU w/ integrated MPEG-2 and MPEG-4 decoders
  • 256MB DDR400 SDRAM (4x NANYA NT5DS32M16BS-5U)
  • 160GB Western Digital WD1600AVBS SATA hard drive
  • 2x ATI Theater 314 QAM/VSB demodulators (for tuners)
  • 2x Philips/NXT SAA7138CHL ADCs
  • 1x VIXS XCode 2115 IC w/ dedicated 32MB DDR400 SDRAM (2x NANYA NT5DS8M16FS-5T)
    • CableCard interface
    • MP@ML encoders
  • Silicon Image SiI5723 Dual SATA controller
  • Xilinx Spartan-3 XC3S200 FPGA
  • 10/100Mbps Ethernet
  • Standard Tivo remote
  • $299 MSRP

TivoHD Advantages
  • MSRP is $500 less ($299 vs $799) thanks to newer, more integrated components
  • TivoHD has ~7% faster CPU (450 MIPS vs 420 MIPS)
  • TivoHD has twice the usable system memory (256MB vs 128MB)
  • Supports MCARDs out of the box.
  • Consumes less power.

TivoHD Disadvantages
  • TTG and MRV throughput is less than Tivo Series3 (as of 9.2 software).
  • The "plug and play" eSATA drive expansion only works with "Tivo Verified" eSATA drives, while the Tivo Series3 works with any eSATA drive.
  • Smaller hard drive (160GB vs 250GB).
  • No THX certification.
  • No piano black enclosure with OLED display.
  • No slick, learning remote (sold separately for $50).
  • No bundled HDMI cable.
  • Drivers for new components potentially less mature / optimized.
  • Potentially slower disk I/O, which may hurt responsiveness.
    The Broadcom BCM7401 in the TivoHD has a single 1.5Gbps SATA channel that is "split" for the internal SATA and eSATA connections using the Silicon Image SiI5723. In contrast, the BCM7038 in the Series3 had a dual-channel SATA controller, so no "splitting" was required. This may negatively impact disk I/O when both internal and eSATA drives are used, and Tivo responsiveness is highly dependent on disk I/O. The SiI5723 does support several RAID modes that could potentially improve random I/O.


Last edited by bkdtv : 11-21-2007 at 12:26 PM. Reason: Updated with new info
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Old 07-24-2007, 01:35 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ping
That transcoder chip is really interesting. Believe it or not some people (like me) may be seriously considering this box despite the lack of an HD display. In fact, even those with an HD display in their primary location may want something like this for their bedroom (where they may still have a SD display). Looks like that chip is capable of a realtime HD->SD conversion, which would save disc space for anyone not interested in HD but who want to use ATSC to get their locals. And of course it would in theory allow multiroom viewing with a Series2, even with an HD recording.
How 'bout plugging your iZuneZen into the usb port and taking your shows with you in minutes @8X realtime transcode?

Or seconds if the transcodes are pre-staged.
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Old 07-24-2007, 01:43 PM   #8
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I just thought of another possible use for the transcoder chip... MRV from S3 to S2 units! With this chip it would be possible to transcode from HD to SD on the fly, thus allowing MRV transfers of HD programs to non-HD capable TiVos. This would make the whole process of MRV completely seamless regardless of which TiVo combination you have.

It could also be used to transcode HD to SD on the fly for TTG, thus eliminating the need for Cable Labs approval. I think most people use TTG for playback of programs on laptops or portable devices anyway, and HD quality is not really necessary in those situations.

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Old 07-24-2007, 01:54 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dan203
I just thought of another possible use for the transcoder chip... MRV from S3 to S2 units! With this chip it would be possible to transcode from HD to SD on the fly, thus allowing MRV transfers of HD programs to non-HD capable TiVos. This would make the whole process of MRV completely seamless regardless of which TiVo combination you have.

It could also be used to transcode HD to SD on the fly for TTG, thus eliminating the need for Cable Labs approval. I think most people use TTG for playback of programs on laptops or portable devices anyway, and HD quality is not really necessary in those situations.
This is what some others speculated in the "New Tivo Coming" thread. Of course, then...how will the Series3 accomplish that feat?
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Old 07-24-2007, 02:09 PM   #10
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It wont! When you attempt to access an HD recording on a S3 from a S2 it will simply have a red cross circle, like what you get now when a program is copy protected.

Although if you have a S3 and a TiVo HD then it might be possible to transfer from S3 to TiVo HD, then from TiVo HD to S2 or PC.

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Old 07-24-2007, 02:16 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dan203
Although if you have a S3 and a TiVo HD then it might be possible to transfer from S3 to TiVo HD, then from TiVo HD to S2 or PC.
Yeah, I had this crazy thought last night about the TiVo HD being used as a transcode hub.
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Old 07-24-2007, 02:17 PM   #12
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I'm betting that this is one of the intended uses for the transcoder chip. Whether or not it ever actually gets used that way is another story, but I bet that was the idea behind throwing it in there.

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Old 07-24-2007, 02:21 PM   #13
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I just looked at the excellent, high-resolution PCB shots posted by Megazone.

The two NANYA 16MB DDR400 parts aren't connected to the Philips/NXT SAA7138CHL ADCs at all. That memory is used exclusively by the VIXS XCode 2115 IC. Moreover, the Broadcom BCM7401 clearly has access to the full 256Mb DDR400 -- twice as much memory as the Series3.

It's looking more and more like the old Series3 is the real "Lite" version.
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Old 07-24-2007, 02:26 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bkdtv
It's looking more and more like the old Series3 is the real "Lite" version.
Shhhhhh.... TiVo wouldn't want anyone to know that just yet.

Are you sure the memory is double what Megazone thinks it is?
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Old 07-24-2007, 02:46 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HDTiVo
Shhhhhh.... TiVo wouldn't want anyone to know that just yet.

Are you sure the memory is double what Megazone thinks it is?
Yes.

There are four 32M16 parts. Anyone can tell you that is 32x16=512 Mbit. Four of those gives you 2048 Mbits, or 256 Megabytes. If you don't trust your multiplication skills, you can check NANYA's site.

http://www.nanya.com/PageEdition3.as...=210&lan=en-us

Scroll down to the bottom and find the NT5DS32M16BS shown in Megazone's picture.

Before I saw that I thought the 256MB might be divided in half, but the motherboard traces clearly show that the full amount is linked to the BCM7401 CPU.
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Old 07-24-2007, 05:12 PM   #16
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Does anyone know if there is hardware in place in the THD for two-way communication in the future? My understanding is that the S3 does not.
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Old 07-24-2007, 05:18 PM   #17
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Yeah, I think bkdtv is right. I blame sleep-dep and juggling a lot of stuff during the review for mis-understanding the part numbers.

Here's another thought on the XCode chip - built in place-shifting. (aka Slingbox)
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Old 07-24-2007, 05:24 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by megazone
Here's another thought on the XCode chip - built in place-shifting. (aka Slingbox)
Quote:
3 D1 or 1 HD MPEG 1/2/4 transcodes up to 8X real-time
If that product spec means it can do 3 SD transcodes simultaneously, it may be juggling a lot.

I am interested in your unified platform theory but I need to understand how we get from what's on this TiVo HD down to the price space of an S2, and compare to further reducing the S2 design in cost.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bkdtv
TivoHD has ~7% faster CPU (450 MIPS vs 420 MIPS)
TivoHD has twice the system memory (256MB vs 128MB)
That sounds likely to give far more than 7% overall performance boost. Maybe some of those really slow S3 operations stimulated the extra memory too.
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Old 07-24-2007, 05:44 PM   #19
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Here's something interesting:

Quote:
Encoders

2x Philips/NXT SAA7138CHL ADCs

Can handle Analog RGB/YPbPr Component Video Input Including 480p/576p/
(note other chips models can handle 720p/1080i also)

http://www.nxp.com/acrobat_download...97/75015903.pdf
So there are actually chips that could handle HD component in? Wonder about cost.

The encoders were listed as sampling on the data sheet, so they are pretty new I guess.
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Old 07-24-2007, 05:53 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HDTiVo
Here's something interesting:



So there are actually chips that could handle HD component in? Wonder about cost.

The encoders were listed as sampling on the data sheet, so they are pretty new I guess.
Yes.

That said, the Tivo has no means to actually record high-definition analog signals. It must downconvert (transcode) the signal to a maximum of 720x576p, and 720x480p is more likely.

Quote:
Originally Posted by HDTivo
Quote:
Originally Posted by bfdtv
TivoHD has ~7% faster CPU (450 MIPS vs 420 MIPS)
TivoHD has twice the system memory (256MB vs 128MB)
That sounds likely to give far more than 7% overall performance boost. Maybe some of those really slow S3 operations stimulated the extra memory too.
Keep in mind that we don't know anything about the CPU requirements of the new parts in the TivoHD. For all we know, the drivers for the ATI Theater 314s and the VIXS XCode may require more CPU and/or memory.

From the initial reviews of the TivoHD, it doesn't sound like there is any noticeable performance improvement over the Series3 with the current software.

Last edited by bkdtv : 07-24-2007 at 06:19 PM.
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Old 07-24-2007, 07:10 PM   #21
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From the initial reviews, performance is significantly worse, although that's probably 8.1 vs 8.3 software.

Where did the rumor start that SD content could be freely shared regardless of the ccx code?
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Old 07-24-2007, 07:14 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rodalpho
From the initial reviews, performance is significantly worse, although that's probably 8.1 vs 8.3 software.
Where is this 'significantly worse' coming from? I have the TiVo HD sitting next to a Series3 and a Pioneer DVR-810H, and a Toshiba RS-TX20 upstairs.

The TiVo HD blows the doors off the Toshiba, no question.

The S3 is a bit faster, but in normal use I can't say it is *significantly* faster.

And with the Pioneer, one of the fastest S2 platforms, it seems fairly comparable to the TiVo HD over all. I think each one has an edge in different areas.
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Old 07-24-2007, 07:27 PM   #23
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SATA controller. A commenter on TiVoLovers spotted a chip hiding under the SATA cables which appears to be a Silicon Image SiI5723 storage processor.

I notice something interesting - there are traces from the BCM7401, which has a SATA interface, to the unpopulated SATA header. Then those *same* connections continue to the 5723. Could that header be a left-over debug connection? They could've populated it during development to test the 7401's SATA connection and monitor the signals. Maybe that's the connection to the 5723, and then that chip provides the two connections. The unpopulated header could be a red herring.
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Old 07-24-2007, 08:32 PM   #24
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The cnet review and a couple others mentioned that it had the old 8.0 slowly refreshing menus. I found them incredibly annoying, way back when. Is that not the case?
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Old 07-24-2007, 08:39 PM   #25
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Any thoughts on what's coming next?

There's a $150 rebate to clear out the remaining stocks of S2.

I assume there will shortly be a rebate to get rid of remaining S3s.

Apparently informed speculation has the "official" eSATA drive coming out before Christmas.

It would seem to make sense to add a second model to the TiVo HD line with a larger hard disc (500gb?) and maybe a few of the other bells and whistles missing in the HD (THX, lighted remote). I would be willing to pay an extra $100-$150 for the extra capacity. (HD program files are a lot bigger than SD and think it's silly to have to throw away a working drive to increase capacity.)

It would probably add an additional $100-$200 TiVo to add more tuners and support for satellite boxes to allow multiple sets to tap into a central media server.

There are two USB ports but the only known use is for a single wireless network adapter. Maybe the other could be used for a keyboard and mouse and implement a web browser. Keying in program names from the remote is a pain. If content companies are cooperative, TiVo could become a gateway to the expanding world of web-distributed programming. Most people don't want to watch TV on their PC.

A lot of really nifty things are constrained by restrictions imposed by copyright owners. If TiVo can demonstrate bulletproof DRM they might be given access to content not "regular" media players. TiVo is, after all, already a "closed" system. TiVo + Netflix. Now that would be awesome . . .
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Old 07-24-2007, 08:43 PM   #26
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I expect the S3 will be unavailable very shortly. It has no reason to exist. I wouldn't be surprised if they release a HD SKU with a 500GB internal drive selling for $500.

Longer term, when economy of scale and component price drops kick in and HDTV penetration is higher, those traces on the HD could be filled with encoder chips, the price dropped to $200 with rebate, and the old S2 and DT models could be retired also.
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Old 07-24-2007, 09:00 PM   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bkdtv
Yes.

That said, the Tivo has no means to actually record high-definition analog signals. It must downconvert (transcode) the signal to a maximum of 720x576p, and 720x480p is more likely.
I'm a bit lost. Which chips are doing the mpeg compression of the analog video signals?

Edit:

I also found this about the 7401:

http://www.broadcom.com/collateral/pb/7401-PB04-R.pdf which says it has an HD analog video encoder.

I can't copy from the pdf, but the product page also says

Quote:
HD analog video encoder with simultaneous SD outputs such as NTSC-M, NTSC-J, PAL-BDGHIN, PAL-M and PAL-Nc


Last edited by HDTiVo : 07-24-2007 at 09:23 PM.
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Old 07-24-2007, 09:32 PM   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by megazone
SATA controller. A commenter on TiVoLovers spotted a chip hiding under the SATA cables which appears to be a Silicon Image SiI5723 storage processor.

I notice something interesting - there are traces from the BCM7401, which has a SATA interface, to the unpopulated SATA header. Then those *same* connections continue to the 5723. Could that header be a left-over debug connection? They could've populated it during development to test the 7401's SATA connection and monitor the signals. Maybe that's the connection to the 5723, and then that chip provides the two connections. The unpopulated header could be a red herring.
Sounds right.

The 7401 only provides one eSATA connection, so that appears to be the link to the SiI5723.

Quote:
Originally Posted by HDTiVo
I'm a bit lost. Which chips are doing the mpeg compression of the analog video signals?
The VIXS XCode does the encoding / transcoding of the uncompressed digital bitstream to MPEG-2 or MPEG-4. That uncompressed digital bitstream is supplied by either the Philips/NXT SAA7138CHL or ATI depending on the source. As far as which part supplies the VIXS XCode with the uncompressed digital bitstream encoded from analog channels input via coax...I am not entirely certain, but after looking at the specs again, the Philips/NXT is the more probable candidate.

The Broadcom BCM7401 does not do MPEG-2 encoding. As far as I can tell, it won't even accept an analog input. It does do digital -> analog conversion to produce the output for the component, s-video, composite, etc connections on the TivoHD.

Last edited by bkdtv : 07-24-2007 at 09:45 PM.
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Old 07-24-2007, 09:33 PM   #29
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supernooob reporting for duty...

Quote:
Originally Posted by scustin
Apparently informed speculation has the "official" eSATA drive coming out before Christmas.
first off, i'm a noob here....as a noob, i realize i should probably go read 500 posts, and report back with a more refined line of questioning. however, my question is a relatively simple one, so i figured i would jump right in with my noob-licious question:

-the tivo website indicates that "expandable storage" is "coming late 2007"; any speculation on what this will look like?

for example, will it likely be a tivo-specific hard drive to expand storage, or is it possible that you will be able to use just use any old external hard drive? any reason to wait until late 2007 to purchase the tivoHD when "expandable storage" becomes available?

any other thoughts or things i'm missing here?

deltatahoe

ps, if this question has been answered 100 times elsewhere, you can just respond with something like this:



Last edited by deltatahoe : 07-24-2007 at 09:39 PM.
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Old 07-24-2007, 09:56 PM   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bkdtv
The VIXS XCode does the encoding / transcoding of the uncompressed digital bitstream to MPEG-2 or MPEG-4. That uncompressed digital bitstream is supplied by either the Philips/NXT SAA7138CHL or ATI depending on the source. As far as which part supplies the VIXS XCode with the uncompressed digital bitstream encoded from analog channels input via coax...I am not entirely certain, but after looking at the specs again, the Philips/NXT is the more probable candidate.
Could you break this down for me according to source (ATSC/NTSC/Coax (Analog vs Digital)); A/D converter (in case of analog source); MPEG encoder (in case of analog source) so I can understand and then summarize where each thing comes from and how it flows eventually to the hard drive?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Megazone
I notice something interesting - there are traces from the BCM7401, which has a SATA interface
The 7401 is listed as 450DMIPS. The 7400 version is listed at 1000 DMIPS and shows a connection to a DVD R/W drive in addition to the SATA interface.

The 7400 has dual ITU-R-656 inputs, the 7401 a single.
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