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OMAP 4 earns first Netflix HD certification on Android

Jul 5, 2011 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 3 views

Netflix has launched a certification program for its Netflix HD application, awarding its first seal of approval to Texas Instruments' OMAP 4 processor and WiLink 7.0 chipset running on Android 2.3. TI's dual-core OMAP 4 won the certification thanks to its ability to play 1080p video at 30fps and its on-chip support for DRM (digital rights management).

Netflix introduced its Netflix streaming media app on Android in May, but only on five devices. The supported handsets include the HTC Incredible with Android 2.2, HTC Nexus One with Android 2.2 and 2.3, the HTC Evo 4G with Android 2.2, the HTC G2 with Android 2.2, and the Samsung Nexus S with Android 2.3. Netflix later permitted the app to run on the LG Revolution smartphone (pictured).

Netflix defended its limited roll-out as a necessary precaution to ensure that DRM (digital rights management) was enabled securely across the fragmented Android platform. Back in November, Netflix had indicated Android fragmentation and security issues as a reason for announcing it was delaying the release of the app.

With the exception of the Nexus S, which runs on a Samsung Hummingbird, all these phones run on one of Qualcomm's Snapdragon processors. However, it is the Texas Instruments (TI) dual-core Cortex-A9 OMAP 4 that is first to achieve the Netflix Silicon Reference Implementation (SRI) certification. 

The SRI certification was awarded to a TI "connectivity combo solution" that integrates an unspecified version of the OMAP 4 with TI's WiLink 7.0 chip (pictured at left). The latter integrates Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, and FM wireless technologies.

Products based on this combo are essentially pre-certified to run Netflix, saving Netflix and handset vendors the time and money involved with testing every mobile device. The Netflix certification supports Android 2.3 ("Gingerbread") today, with support for additional Android versions planned for later this year. OMAP 4-based Android devices pre-installed with the Netflix HD app will be launched in the near future, says TI.

M-Shield supports DRM on chip

The Netflix SRI requirements for mobile content streaming include the ability to run 1080p video at 30 frames per second (fps) with end-to-end protection for DRM. According to TI, the OMAP 4's M-Shield security technology was the key to winning the certification. M-Shield implements a hardware-protected, trusted execution environment (TEE) that runs on the OMAP processor, without requiring a dedicated chip or extra CPU cycles that might diminish video performance, claims TI.

TI says it worked with Trusted Logic to develop a secure middleware component (SMC) that appears to be key to implementing M-Shield security with Netflix's DRM scheme. The SMC is said to be the OMAP version of Trusted Logic's Trusted Foundations technology. The middleware executes "TrustedShow" DRM technology, as well as an OMAP-optimized implementation of the Netflix-required Microsoft PlayReady DRM scheme, says TI.

The OMAP 4 offers further security by implementing HDCP encryption over an HDMI connection to a TV, says the company. WiLink, meanwhile, adds streaming security via the implementation of Wi-Fi-based WEP, WPA, and WPA2 protocols. 

OMAP 4 background

The first two OMAP 4 SoCs were the OMAP4430 and OMAP4440, which started out clocked at 720MHz and 1GHz, but recently bumped up to 1GHz and 1.5GHz respectively. Last month, TI announced a 1.8GHz model called the OMAP4470.

The multicore-ready OMAP 4 is said to provide both hardware accelerated 2D and 3D graphics and 1080p multi-format video playback. The SoCs are also notable for their 3D video support. The OMAP4430, for example, will support dual (stereoscopic) five megapixel video cameras, taking 3D movies at up to 720p. The OMAP4440, meanwhile, will support dual 12 megapixel cameras and take 1080p 3D videos, the chipmaker says. 

Android devices running the OMAP 4 include the LG Optimus 3D smartphone and LG Optimus Pad tablet and the recently announced G9 series, including the 10.1-inch Archos 101 G9 (pictured). An OMAP 4430 is rumored to be appearing in Motorola's upcoming Droid 3 smartphone. Meanwhile, a rumored, Samsung-built Google Nexus Prime has also been said to sport an OMAP 4.

Other processors that could conceivably achieve the Netflix HD certification include Qualcomm's Snapdragon. In February, when Qualcomm announced a new line of Snapdragons clocked at up to 2.5GHz, , including the single-core MSM8930, dual-core MSM8960, and quad-core APQ8064, the company said it had been collaborating with Netflix to ensure that the devices are optimized to run Netflix. No claims were made about upcoming certification, however.

Fun factoid: a May 17 report from Sandvine estimated that Netflix streaming alone accounts for 30 percent of Internet traffic.

Stated Bill Holmes, vice president, Business Development, Netflix, "TI's OMAP architecture and M-Shield security will set the stage for a high-performance, low-power, secure platform that will help Netflix members instantly watch unlimited TV shows and movies on Android devices."

Stated Fred Cohen, director of the OMAP User Experience team, TI, "TI is proud to be the first to achieve this coveted certification and to provide the solution that ensures a strong balance of performance, security and power efficiency as Netflix experiences migrate to the mobile world."

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