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IP STB runs Linux, supports Netflix downloads

Jan 4, 2010 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 65 views

Syabas Technology has posted specs for an upcoming IP STB (set-top box) that supports streaming Netflix downloads. The UPnP-ready “Popbox” offers Ethernet, WiFi, Component video, and HDMI connections, runs embedded Linux on a MIPS-based Sigma Designs SMP8643 processor, and will ship in March for only $129, according to DeviceGuru.

According to DeviceGuru, which closely follows the IP set-top field, the Popbox will compete against other recent Linux-based IP set-tops, including Roku's market-leading Roku Player, and the new Boxee Box (pictured at right), which is designed by Boxee and manufactured by D-Link.

The Popbox appears to offer a range of support for streaming media sites that's similar to that of the Boxee Box, which in turn supports more sites than the Roku Player. However, the Popbox is said to currently lack support for YouTube due to legal restrictions. According to DeviceGuru, Syabas will demonstrate a Popbox prototype this week at CES in Las Vegas, running 20 apps that include Netflix, Mediafly, Weather Bug, Twitter, Facebook, SHOUTcast, and Blip TV.

Syabas Technology's Popbox
(Source: DeviceGuru)

The Popbox is based on Syabas' earlier Popcorn Hour set-top box (STB), but omits that device's media-server functions, says the story. In addition, the Popbox offers "a substantially redesigned UI (user interface), a more finished-looking case, 2GB of internal nonvolatile storage (flash), and a new, extensible application platform through which third-party-developed apps can be downloaded directly into the device," says DeviceGuru.

The development platform is described by Syabas as the Digital Audio & Video Input Device (DAVID) Platform Architecture. DAVID is an open platform that lets developers create "rich object based interactive graphics applications utilizing API's to create TV experiences out of any popular internet based media experience."

Syabas Popbox UI
(Source: DeviceGuru)

According to DeviceGuru, the Popbox uses a Linux 2.6 kernel-based OS running on a Sigma Designs SMP8643 system-on-chip (SoC). The SoC is said to integrate a 667MHz MIPS core, a 2D graphics processor, three 333MHz audio DSPs (digital signal processors), and a dedicated 333MHz security processor (MIPS 4KEc IPU). The latter includes "robust digital rights management and 'conditional access' content protection, which apparently satisfies Netflix's requirements for the streaming of its on-demand video titles," says the story. The box is also said to incorporate 512MB DDR2 SDRAM, and to run using less than 15 Watts.

Other specs are listed by Syabas on its Popbox site, and include the aforementioned 2GB SD Card, a 10/100 Ethernet port, two USB 2.0 ports, and 802.11n WiFi. For digital media I/O, the box offers HDMI v1.3a (for up to 1080p video), as well as Component video, stereo analog audio, and S/PDIF optical digital audio connections.

The UPnP-compliant Popbox is said to support a wide variety of photo, audio, and video formats. Supported video codecs include the full gamut of MPEG formats, plus H.264 and WMV9, says Syabas. The fanless system is said to measure 8.0 x 6.0 x 1.25 inches (203 x 154 x 32mm), and is accompanied by a IR remote control device, says the company.


More information on Syabas Technology's Popbox may be found here. The DeviceGuru story on the Popbox, which includes more screenshots, photos, background, and a block diagram, should be here.

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