Set-top Box

Scientific Atlanta 8300 Set-Top Box Teardown

18 June 2008
The following is an overview of a teardown analysis conducted by IHS Benchmarking.

Overview / Main Features

The Explorer 8300DVB is a European version HD DVR Set-Top-Box (STB) with Modem and is toward the high-end in the Explorer series. The STB features a 160GB internal hard drive and also an external SATA port for extra storage needs. One special feature is the four built in digital tuners, of which one is used for data and three are for audio/video. Effectively with the four tuners, users are able to have data access (internet via Euro-DOCSIS), record two different channels while watching another one all simultaneously. In fact the Explorer 8300DVB is Scientific Atlanta's first HD STB with four digital tuners.

In addition, the Explorer 8300DVB provides plenty of interfacing ports such as coaxial cable in/out, HDMI, Optical S/PDIF, component video, USB, SATA and Ethernet.

Per Scientific Atlanta, 'The Explorer 8300DVB Set-Top High-Definition, Digital Video Recorder offers a cost effective solution for providing subscribers with a gateway to multiple services through a single consumer electronics device, and is fully capable of supporting real-time, two-way interactive applications such as impulse pay-per-view (IPPV), network based games, enhanced TV, email, internet browsing, chat, voting/polling, T-commerce, video-on-demand (VOD) and subscriptions VOD (SVOD).'

Scientific Atlanta 8300 Set-Top Box Main ImageScientific Atlanta 8300 Set-Top Box Main Image

Target Market

Cable service providers such as Telewest (Now Virgin Media)


Announced March 14 2006 and launched by Telewest (Now Virgin Media)

Pricing and Availability

Pricing for this kind of product (at the consumer level) is meaningless as it is typically a completely subsidized part of a service package, and since it cannot function without being properly set-up by a service provider, after market product and prices have no validity.

Volume Estimations

For the purposes of this teardown analysis, we have assumed that 2 M units of this STB will be produced during the product lifetime.

As a reminder, volume production assumptions are not meant to be necessarily 'market accurate' and our meant primarily to be 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).

Scientific Atlanta 8300 Set-Top Box - Main PCB TopScientific Atlanta 8300 Set-Top Box - Main PCB Top

Function / Performance

No performance testing was performed.

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 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.

Scientific Atlanta 8300 Set-Top Box Cost AnalysisScientific Atlanta 8300 Set-Top Box Cost Analysis

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.

Design for Manufacturing / Device Complexity

We tend to use component counts as the one measurable and clearly defined metric 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 Scientific Atlanta Explorer 8300DVB has an approximate total component count of 2300 of which 90 are mechanical components (when breaking out all of the subcomponents of the tuner module and power supplies). Despite of the two extra tuners compared to other satandard HD DVR STBs which has no cable modem built in and only support two TV signals simultaneously, the component count is adequate considering its function and form factor.

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. 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 two custom ASICs from ST Microelectronic which are believed to support video processing/decoding and modem function. In the front end section it features an Mixed Signal Front End device from Analog Devices and 4 Microtune tuner for silicon tuning. On top of these core ICs, there are a few other ICs supporting mainly I/O function such as Ethernet controller from Marvell, HDMI transmitter from Silicon Image and a A/V Switch with Volume Control from Sony.

Overall, the Explorer 8300DVB appears to be a typical STB design with typical front end, processing and I/O devices.

Major Components

Main PCB

Audio/Video Processing

ST Microelectronics - ATLAS Chipset - Set-Top-Box System-on-Chip - A/V Processor / MPEG Decoder, 250MHz CPU

ST Microelectronics - ASIC


Cypress Semiconductor - CY241V8ASXC-11 - MPEG Clock Generator with VCXO & Built-in PLL

Front End

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

Microtune - MT2060F - Broadband Tuner - Single Chip, Multi-Standard, w/ Integrated IF Variable Gain Amplifier

I/O & Interface

Marvell Technology - 88SA8040-TBC1 - Serial ATA Controller - SATA to PATA

Silicon Image - SiI9030CTU - HDMI Transmitter - 25-112MHz, VGA-SXGA, 480i, 576i, 480p, 576p, 720p, 1080i, 4xi2S Inputs, HDCP Encryption, 3.3V (Includes Microchip Daughter Die: 1.50mm x 1.30mm)

SMSC - LAN91C113-NU - Ethernet Controller - Single-Chip, 10/100 PHY and MAC

Sony - CXA2161R - Audio/Video Switch - I2C Bus Control, w/ Electronic Volume Control


Samsung Semiconductor - K4D263238I-VC50T - GDDR SDRAM, 128Mb

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

Other Sub-Assemblies

Hard Drive

Western Digital - WD1600BB - 160GB, EIDE, 7200RPM, 2MB Buffer

Power Supply (Internal)

Scientific Atlanta 8300 Set-Top Box - Enclosure DisassemblyScientific Atlanta 8300 Set-Top Box - Enclosure Disassembly

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