Acquired Electronics360

Set-top Box

Cisco 8240HDC Set-Top Box Teardown

18 September 2008
The following is an overview of a teardown analysis conducted by IHS Technology Teardown Services.

Overview / Main Features

Introduced in Jan 2007 (CES), the Explorer 8240HDC HD DVR is a seperable security compliant Set-Top box (supports the still relatively new M-Card cable card), and although it has been around since early 2007, given the apparent latency of market pickup to this new standard, it's still probably been only recently picked up more by service providers ?and may have a longer than average lifecycle, as manufacturers may be keen to extend the product life of seperable security boxes in an effort to recoup NRE and upfront costs, etc.

Per Cisco Literature: Scientific Atlanta, a Cisco company, offers the latest in digital-only set-top platforms with its Explorer 8240C Series Digital-Only Digital Video Recorder (DVR). The 8240C integrates the dynamic features of digital video and digital video recording with separable security capabilities. Our Explorer 8240C DVR Series gives you a choice of two digital-only platforms to best meet your needs. The Explorer 8240C Digital-Only DVR for standard-definition and the 8240HDC Digital-Only DVR for high definition.

Additionally, both platforms are equipped with a Multi-Stream CableCARD (M-Card interface to operate as a separable security set-top. With this set-top series, your site can deploy DVR services and offer customers a digital video package that rivals the All digital claim of satellite all while helping you meet separable security requirements. Scientific Atlanta was the first company to receive CableLabs qualification for the M-Card interface, as announced in March 2006, and continues to lead industry efforts by testing and working with our customers.

Cisco 8240HDC Set-Top Box Main ImageCisco 8240HDC Set-Top Box Main Image

Target Market

Terrestrial / Digital Cable service providers


Earliest announcement Jan 2007 per found Cisco press release.

Pricing and Availability

Pricing for this kind of product (at the consumer level) is typically meaningless as it is a completely subsidized part of a service package. Cable set-top boxes are typically rented out to subscribers on a monthly schedule in accordance with the service contract which varies region to region within the North American market. Since the device cannot function without being properly set-up by a service provider, after-market product and prices have no validity.

Availability limited to specific cable providers.

Cisco 8240HDC Set-Top Box - Main PCB TopCisco 8240HDC Set-Top Box - Main PCB Top

Volume Estimations

For the purposes of this teardown analysis, we have assumed that 2.5M units of this STB will be produced during the product lifetime. This volume estimate is in line with our previous estimations for similar types of cable STB.

As a reminder, teardown volume production assumptions are primarily used for our cost analysis in terms of amortized NRE and tooling costs, especially for custom components specific to the model being analyzed (mechanical components especially). Unless assumed, volumes increment by an order of magnitude. Minor changes in volume (say 1 million vs. 2) rarely have a large net effect on our final analysis.

Function / Performance

No performance testing was performed.

Cisco 8240HDC Set-Top Box Cost AnalysisCisco 8240HDC Set-Top Box Cost Analysis

Cost Notes

Major Cost Drivers (Representing ~80% of Total Materials Costs)

Seagate - ST3160212ACE - Hard Drive - 160GB, 3.5', Ultra ATA/100, 7200RPM, 2MB Buffer

ST Microelectronics - 4008988 - Set-Top Box Decoder

Multi-Stream Cable Card Value Line Item

UniMicron Technology - 4-Layer - FR4

Power Supply - 50W (Estimated), Input AC100-120, 50/60Hz

Analog Devices - AD9878BSTZ - Mixed-Signal Front End - Broadband, 3.3V

Microtune - MT2121F - Tuner - Broadband, Single Chip (Qty:2)

Samsung Semiconductor - K4S561632H-UC75 - SDRAM - 256Mb (4M x 16Bit x 4 Banks), CL=3, 133MHz, 3.3V (Qty:2)

Samsung Semiconductor - K4S561632H-UC75 - SDRAM - 256Mb (4M x 16Bit x 4 Banks), CL=3, 133MHz, 3.3V (Qty:2)

Enclosure, Main, Front Panel - Injection Molded ABS, Silkscreened, Silver Painted

Texas Instruments - TSB43DA42AGHC - Microcontroller - Single Chip Solution for IEEE1394a Link-Layer, w/ Integrated 2-Port PHY

Enclosure, Main, Top - Stamped / Formed Metal, Painted

Enclosure, Main, Bottom - Stamped / Formed Paint Loc Steel

Samsung Semiconductor - K4D263238I-GC50 - SDRAM - GDDR, 128Mb (1M x 32 Bits x 4 Banks), 2.5V, 200MHz (Qty:2)

Microtune - MT2011F - Digital Cable Network Interface - SCTE-40 Compatible

ST Microelectronics - 188373 - Cable Card Controller - Assumed Function

Silicon Image - SiI9030CTU - HDMI Transmitter - 25-112MHz, VGA-SXGA, 480i, 576i, 480p, 576p, 720p, 1080i, 4xi2S Inputs, HDCP Encryption, 3.3V

Oki Semiconductor - 4015677 - Cable Card Controller

Label - Lexan Polycarbonate, Die-Cut, Silkscreened, w/ PSA

Marvell Technology - 88SA8040-TBC1 - SATA Controller

Materials and Manufacturing $163.05

What Is Not Included in our Cost Analysis:

The total materials and manufacturing costs reported in this analysis reflect ONLY the direct materials cost (from component vendors and assorted EMS providers), AND manufacturing with basic test. Not included in this analysis are costs above and beyond the material manufacture of the core device itself cost of intellectual property, royalties and licensing fees (those not already included into the per component price), software, software loading and test, shipping, logistics marketing and other channel costs including not only EMS provider and the OEM?E margin, but that of other resellers. Our cost analysis is meant to focus on those costs incurred in the manufacture of the core device and exceptionally in some circumstances the packaging and literature as well.

Manufacturing Notes

Country of Origin / Volume Assumptions

Based on markings, the unit was made in Mexico. Furthermore, we have assumed that custom mechanicals (plastics, metals, etc.) were sourced in China to take advantage of lower cost structures there.

Country of origin assumptions relate directly to the associated cost of manufacturing, where calculated by iSuppli. In the cases of 'finished'sub-assemblies (such as can tuners), we do not calculate internal manufacturing costs, but rather assess the market price of the finished product in which case country of origin assumptions may or may not have a direct effect on pricing.

Remember also that labor rates are applied directly only to hand inserted components and systems in our bill of materials, and although regional assumptions do, these new rates do not have a direct effect on our modeled calculations of placement costs for automated SMD assembly lines. Auto inserted components (such as SMT components) placement costs are calculated by an iSuppli algorithm which allocates a cost per component based on the size and pincount of the device. This calculation is affected by country or region of origin as well.

Cisco 8240HDC Set-Top Box - Main PCB BottomCisco 8240HDC Set-Top Box - Main PCB Bottom

Design for Manufacturing / Device Complexity

We tend to use component counts as the one measurable and clearly defined etric?by which we can compare and judge the relative complexity of devices and comment as to where a given device fits in the spectrum of overall manufacturing cost and complexity between devices.

The Cisco Explorer 8240HDC DVR Set Top has an approximate total component count of 1736 (when counting the CableCard as a single unit) of which 88 are mechanical components. Due to the common form factor of DVR Set Tops, the components count relates closely to its feature set. The Explorer 8240HDC is no exception and the component count (both mechanical and electronic) is inline with other similar STBs we have already analyzed.

Component counts have a direct bearing on the overall manufacturing cycle times and costs, and also can increase or decrease overall yields and re-work. Our calculations of manufacturing costs factor counts and more qualitative complexities in the design. The cost of manufacturing is also, to some extent, decreased in this case because of assumed labor rate applied for China.

Note that manual labor has a much smaller effect on auto-insertion assembly lines (for the Main PCB, for example), where manufacturing costs are much more capital equipment intensive and driven by these investment costs.

Design Notes

The core chipset is a private label custom ASIC from ST Microelectronics which is believed to support video processing/decoding and modem functions (this is not only typical of Cisco/Sci At STB designs previously seen, but all 3 boxes currently under analysis from Cisco/Sci At use the exact same core chip). This similarity in architecture between the boxes extends to the Front-End section where all 3 designs also share the same core a Mixed Signal Front End device from Analog Devices AS9879) and Microtune tuners (MT2121F/MT2011F) for digital tuning and cable network interface.

In the I/O interface section all 3 boxes also feature an Oki Semiconductor Cable card controller (interface) chip, TI Microcontrollers, and Silicon Image HDMI transmitters.

A modular (PCMCIA based) Multi-Stream CableCard is included within the STB for use to decrypt incoming signals (and providing the seperable security feature). This is a familiar Scientific Atlanta PowerKey PKM802 CableCard previously analyzed by iSuppli (and again common to all these Cisco boxes).

Main PCB

Audio / Video Processing

Set-Top Box Decoder - ST Microelectronics / Scientific Atlanta - 4008988

I/O & Interface

Microcontroller - Texas Instruments - TSB43DA42GHC - Single Chip Solution for IEEE1394a Link-Layer, w/ Integrated 2-Port PHY

Cable Card Controller - Oki Semiconductor - 4015677

HDMI Transmitter - Silicon Image - SiI9030CTU

SATA Controller - Marvell Technology - 88SA8040-TBC1


SDRAM - Samsung Semiconductor - K4D263238I-GC50 - 128Mb (1M x 32 Bits x 4 Banks) DDR, 200MHz, 2.5V

Front End

Mixed-Signal Front End - Analog Devices - AD9878BSTZ - Broadband, 3.3V

Tuner - Microtune - MT2121F - Broadband, Single Chip

Digital Cable Network Interface - Microtune - MT2011F - SCTE-40 Compatible

Other Sub-Assemblies

Hard Drive

Seagate - ST3160212ACE - 300GB, 3.5', Ultra ATA/100, 7200 RPM, 2MB Buffer


Scientific Atlanta PowerKey PKM802 Multi-Stream CableCARD - Containing:

ST Microelectronic - SCAAMSPB1R - Microcontroller/Processor - ASIC

Power Supply (Internal)

Scientific Atlanta - PWB 4005307_J - (In-house custom design)

Cisco 8240HDC Set-Top Box - Enclosure DisassemblyCisco 8240HDC Set-Top Box - Enclosure Disassembly

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