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Broadcom squeezes cable modem chip-set into single device

Cable modems could now become a commodity

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Broadcom has succeeded in developing a single chip, known as the BCM3300, to replace the three-chip set currently powering cable modems. This should have a significant impact on the price of cable modems, expected to reach the $175-$200 range, with the chip costing around $50 initially. The first modems should be available at the end of the year. Broadcom achieved the cost saving by integrating the media access control and the physical layer transmission functionality. The transfer rates achievable on coaxial cable should be 56Mbps for receiving and 20Mbps sending. Encryption and decryption is also possible for secure email and financial transactions. The chip will support next-generation modems because of its compatibility with the Data Over Cable Interface Specification. The development could also help video-on-demand from cable companies. Another application for the chip is set-top boxes, although these are not likely to appear before next summer. The smaller size of the STB will also be an added advantage. Broadcom's BCM93300 reference design also provides interfacing capability for video teleconferencing, voice-over-Internet, USB and 10Base-T Ethernet. In the US, it is expected that there will be 500,000 cable modem users by the end of the year, with forecasts by Kinetic Strategies of three million by 2001. The alternative approach, xDSL, is expected to attract around a third of these numbers, according to Telechoice, for a broadband service that can be delivered over twisted copper wire. ®

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