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Android IPTV set-top features 802.11ac, Marvell SoC

Apr 10, 2014  |  Eric Brown
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Swisscom released a “Swisscom TV 2.0″ set-top box that runs Android 4.2.2 on a Marvell Armada 1500 Plus SoC, and also features a Marvell 802.11ac WiFi chip.

Announced by Marvell as a double design win, the Swisscom TV 2.0 set-top box (STB) runs on the Armada 1500 Plus system-on-chip unveiled by Marvell back in December. The SoC is an upgrade to the Armada 1500, which was the designated SoC for Google TV 2.0 set-tops and smart TVs. It is expected that the Armada 1500 Plus will be one of the principle SoC pairings with the upcoming successor to GoogleTV, rumored to be called Android TV. However, it is also likely Google will work with a variety of SoC platforms as part of a move to loosen up previous Google TV requirements that many vendors found too restricting.



Swisscom TV 2.0

In any case, judging by the sole image supplied for Swisscom’s new STB, and the fact that Google has yet to formally announce Android TV, this is another custom smart-TV stack built atop Android 4.2.2. In addition, Swisscom makes no references to either Google TV or Android TV.


Android-powered Swisscom TV 2.0 UI, device, and remote

The Swisscom TV 2.0 appears to be the first shipping product to run on the Armada 1500 Plus, and it’s also the first STB to offer Marvell’s 802.11ac WiFi chip, called the Avastar 88W8897. As per the new 802.11ac standard, the chip enables 2×2 MIMO spatial stream multiplexing, with data rates up to MCS9 (866.7Mbps), says Marvell.

Switzerland based Swisscom, which serves more than 1 million subscribers, is offering the STB to its subscribers for 129 Swiss Francs, or about $147. The box provides seven-day replay on over 250 channels, plus more than 80 HD channels. The Swisscom TV 2.0 enables 1,000 hours of recording, and movies on demand with personalized recommendations. More than 50 Android apps are said to be available, including YouTube, Facebook, and “Google,” says Swisscom.



Swisscom TV 2.0 front and back detail
(click images to enlarge)

The Android 4.2.2 stack runs on the dual Cortex-A9 cores supplied by the Armada 1500 Plus. Marvell still doesn’t list clock speed, but the earlier 1500 ran at 1.2GHz. The SoC boosts graphics and improves security compared to the original Armada 1500, which replaced the Intel Atom SoCs found in the original Google TV devices. The Vivante graphics subsystem combines a GC1000 3D core and a GC300 2D core.


Marvell Armada 1500 Plus block diagram
(click image to enlarge)

The video/audio codec subsystem supports either dual-decode or “one encode, one decode” of formats including 1080p H.264, VC-1, MPEG2, AVS, and VP8, says Marvell. The SoC supports HDMI v1.4a output, and adds multiple transport stream inputs for HDMI pass-through, turning STBs into “multi-screen source devices,” according to Marvell.

The 130 x 130 x 35mm Swisscom TV 2.0 features an Ethernet port, USB and micro-USB ports, an HDMI port, and an audio port. There appears to be no local storage — instead, the 1,000-hour network PVR, which offers local timeshift buffering, relies on Swisscom cloud services. The fanless box runs on 5.6 Watts, or 3.8W on standby, using a 220-240V, 50Hz supply and AC adapter.



Swisscom TV 2.0 remote details and dimensions
(click images to enlarge)

A Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) radio is included along with the Marvell WiFi chip to communicate with the remote without requiring line of sight. The remote rivals the size of the STB, which is typical in this age of technological miniaturization and stubbornly fat-fingered consumers.

 
Further information

The Swisscom TV 2.0 STB is now available to Swisscom subscribers in Switzerland for 129 Swiss Francs, or about $147. More information may be found at the Swisscom TV 2.0 product page. A short video of Marvell Video R&D Software Architecture Team Leader Gaurav Arora discussing the Armada 1500 Plus is available in our recent report on Android TV leaks.
 

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