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Re: transputers in TV set-top boxes


> I have heard that transputer-based processors are used in TV set-top boxes
> in the UK. Is there a reference to this information?
> Thanks,
> Gerald.

Back in October 1998, I discovered the following:

> (via Dejanews and uk.telecom :)
> From a BSkyB news release:
> "Digiboxes The first set-top boxes - or digiboxes - are designed and
> manufactured by Pace, Panasonic, Grundig and Amstrad. Beneath the four
> individually-styled exteriors lies a common specification with the
> power to turn the TV set into the hub of the home's entertainment and
> interactive services.
> Based around a high-speed ST20 processor from ST Microelectronics and
> incorporating a V.34 (28.8kbps) modem, 4 Megabytes of CPU dedicated
> DRAM memory and a further 4 Megabytes of flash memory, the digiboxes
> are capable of decoding MPEG-2 digital video and audio as well as
> processing additional services such as the SkyGuide EPG and future
> interactive services. The digiboxes incorporate an operating software
> system based on a customised version of OpenTV's advanced set-top box
> operating system known as OpenTV-FX (also known as OpenTV 1.2). 
> Digiboxes are fully upgradeable using software which can be downloaded
> by satellite. This might include enhancements to the operating system
> or to the SkyGuide. Thanks to its two banks of flash memory, the
> Digibox can handle these upgrades in 'background mode' enabling the
> viewer to continue watching programmes while the upgrade takes place.
> Twin SCART outputs ensure simple high-quality connection to TV and VCR
> using PAL or RGB signals. In addition a UHF aerial loop-through
> facility is provided to allow compatibility with TVs and VCRs not
> fitted with SCART sockets. A separate high- speed data port allows the
> potential for interoperability with other digital services including
> digital terrestrial television (DTT).
> A second RF coaxial output offers the potential to connect the
> satellite system to another TV via SkyDigital's unique 'TV link'
> feature, designed in conjunction with Global Communications, which
> allows remote control signals to be carried down the same coaxial
> cable that carries the RF signals. This enables viewers to enjoy
> SkyDigital programmes in more than one room at a time. 
> Two direct in/out ports are included - one an RJ11 telephone terminal
> and the other an RS232 serial port. The telephone terminal is linked
> with the supplied cable to the customer's existing phone line and
> allows two-way communication with Sky through the digibox's built-in
> modem. 
> Sky Box Office's pay-per-view selections, package choices, billing
> enquiries and interactive services can all be fed through this
> connection. 
> The RS-232 port is a standard 9-pin serial connector under the control
> of the digibox's processor. In the future this port be could be used to
> output on-line information received via the digibox's modem to a PC. "

 ...  and then  ....

> In article <361A4116.6D90DCE9@xxxxxxxxx>, David Marshall with e-mail
> address David Marshall <dave@xxxxxxxxx> and posted at 17:11:02 on Tue,
> 6 Oct 1998 wrote about Digiboxes
> >Simon Pocock wrote:
> >> I want to know when the full versions of the OS and EPG are going to be
> >> released, both are currently beta releases.
> >
> >Expect the OS and EPG to never be "finished". This is a good thing.
> >
> How long until the hackers get to the format?
> Wouldn't it be cool if they found out how to program the box using the
> serial port to interface it to a computer.
> Then you could write or load in a better interface.

My comment to Barry Cook at the time was "If only they knew!!

I have the ST20 datasheet in PDF form.

Are your interests purely curious, or do you have any particular 
application in mind?


Dr. Roger M.A. Peel
Senior Lecturer in Digital Systems
Department of Computing
School of Electronic Engineering, Information Technology and Mathematics 
University of Surrey                   
Guildford                              Phone: +44 1483 879284 (01483 within UK)
Surrey  GU2 7XH                          Fax: +44 1483 876051
United Kingdom                         Email: R.Peel@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx