STMicroelectronics (NYSE: STM), the world’s leading supplier of silicon chips for set-top boxes (STBs), and a Company well known for its global program for continuously reducing the impact of its operations on the environment, today extended its commitment to saving energy to STB applications. ST supports the moves toward an assessment of STB performance through total energy consumption as used in other sectors of the consumer electronics industry.
Reducing the energy consumption of STBs benefits all parties within the supply chain: OEMs can differentiate their products by receiving energy-efficient markings, such as the Energy Star award, while consumers can potentially benefit from reduced electricity bills.
Today, STBs are sold predominantly on features and cost. In the future ST believes that consumers will take a broader view looking at the total cost of ownership, which includes the initial purchase price as well as power-on costs and disposal of the equipment when it is no longer required. To that end, ST’s strategy focuses on reducing waste energy by including flexible power management features that monitor and adjust the energy consumed by components within the STB environment. These components can be outside the STB, in the case of the low-noise block (LNB) within a satellite dish, for example, large subsystems within the STB such as a hard disk, or even individual modules within the silicon devices themselves.
“We do not expect consumers to sacrifice functionality in return for reduced power consumption and lower cost of ownership,” said Philippe Lambinet, Executive VP and General Manager of the Home Entertainment and Displays Group, STMicroelectronics. “Rather, by monitoring the way in which a product is being used and intelligently configuring the underlying hardware, we’ll make ensure that power consumption is minimized.”
ST’s latest STB devices, including the high-definition single-chip STi7105, STi7111 and STi7141 decoders, are supplied with a software driver called STPOWER that controls all power aspects of the device. This application programming interface (API), which can be called from any application within the STB software stack, is common to all devices, allowing flexible control at a component-level, for the creation of application-specific active- and passive-standby modes. In this environment, STB will feature very fast resume times from passive standby, thereby encouraging people to use this feature.
In addition to programmable power-management features, ST is also developing silicon technologies and design methodologies that reduce power consumption. ST is now manufacturing in a 55nm process technology, which is also optimized for lower power and this alone saves approximately 10% of power when compared to non-power-optimized 55nm technologies. This technology has already been employed in the STi7105, STi7111 and STi7141 decoders for STB applications.
With this combination of programmable power-management features and low-power silicon technology, ST fully expects its STB platforms to be capable of achieving Energy Star Tier-2 performance.