Set-top Box

Cisco 4240HDC Set-Top Box Teardown

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

Overview / Main Features

Introduced in Jan 2007 (CES) (The datasheet is dated December 2006), the Explorer 4240HDC HD 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.

The Explorer4240HDC has two different models (one with SARA configuration, the other with OCAP configuration which seem to have primarily differences in memory content.

Cisco 4240HDC Set-Top Box Main ImageCisco 4240HDC Set-Top Box Main Image
Target Market

Terrestrial digital Cable service providers.


Earliest announcement Jan 2007 per found Cisco press release (though datasheet dates one month earlier).

Cisco 4240HDC Set-Top Box - Main PCB TopCisco 4240HDC Set-Top Box - Main PCB Top

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.

Volume Estimations

For the purposes of this teardown analysis, we have assumed that 6.25M 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 4240HDC Set-Top Box Cost AnalysisCisco 4240HDC Set-Top Box Cost Analysis

Cost Notes

Major Cost Drivers (Representing ~69% of Total Direct Materials)

ST Microelectronics - 4008988 - Set-Top Box Decoder

Multi-Stream Cable Card

UniMicron Technology ?Main PCB - 4-Layer - FR4

Power Supply - 25W (Estimated), Input AC100-120, 50/60Hz

Micron Technology - MT48LC16M16A2P-7ED - SDRAM - 256Mb (4Mx16x4Banks), 3.3V, 133MHz (Qty:2)

Micron Technology - MT48LC16M16A2P-7ED - SDRAM - 256Mb (4Mx16x4Banks), 3.3V, 133MHz (Qty:2)

Numonyx - RC28F25630P85 - Flash - NOR, 256Mb, Bottom Parameter, 85ns

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

Analog Devices - AD9879BSZ - Mixed-Signal Front End - Set-Top Box, Cable Modem

Microtune - MT2121F - Tuner - Broadband, Single Chip

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

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

Total w/ Manufacturing $100.73

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's 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.

Cisco 4240HDC Set-Top Box - Main PCB BottomCisco 4240HDC Set-Top Box - Main PCB Bottom

Manufacturing Notes

Country of Origin / Volume Assumptions

Based on markings, the unit was made in Mexico (as are the other Cisco Exoplorers ubiquitously). 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 Cisco Explorer 4240HDC Set Top has a total component count of 1595 (when counting the CableCard as a single unit) of which 51 are mechanical components. Components count relate closely to feature sets. The Explorer 4240HDC 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.

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


SDRAM - Micron Technology - MT48LC16M16A2P-7ED - 256Mb (4Mx16x4Banks), 3.3V, 133MHz (Qty: 4)

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

Power Supply

Scientific Atlanta - Exact Specs Unknown (Custom)

Cable Card

Scientific Atlanta PowerKey PKM802 Multi-Stream CableCARD - Containing:

Microcontroller / Processor - ASIC - ST Microelectronics - SCAAMSPB1R

Cisco 4240HDC Set-Top Box - Enclosure DisassemblyCisco 4240HDC Set-Top Box - Enclosure Disassembly

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