The prospect of selling a few hundred million dollars in semiconductors might seem attractive, but that revenue stream might not be enough to keep chip giants Intel and Qualcomm interested in the STB processor space. While both vendors have won STB design sockets, there are questions as to their future commitment to the market.
When a company dominates a market, such as Intel in PCs or Qualcomm in handsets, it is often necessary to look other areas to drive growth. Intel has pursued the STB market for several years with some success, garnering some highly visible design sockets such as Comcast’s Xfinity box, and cracking the top 10 vendor list in 2012 and holding down the No. 7 spot in 2013. At the time of introduction, Intel’s CE series of chips were among the highest performance devices available. Two years is an eternity in the semiconductor world, however. Intel’s most recently announced device, the flagship CE5300, came out in early 2012 and now lags behind offerings from most of the other top-tier STB processor vendors, and lacks the processing power to handle the HEVC UHD video needed for the next generation of home media gateways. While Intel did have a presence at IBC 2014, their STB demonstration was focused on the company’s Puma cable modem solution, with the media processing handled by a third-party, ViXS, rather than by an Intel chip.