Digital TV & STB development Promwad

DTV & STB tech

Set-top box & Digital TV dev process highlights

The STB is a device capable to receive video content via DVB standard and display it on TV. The development of IP networks and broadband/ADSL made possible to deliver a high-quality video content through IPTV set-top boxes.

Here we describe the main aspects of hardware development in STB & Digital TV area. We'll focus on DTV standards, STB classification, and the overview of SoC manufacturers for STB.

STB classification

All set-top boxes can be divided into four major groups depending on source of digital TV signal:

  • STB for terrestrial digital video broadcast (DVB-T)
  • STB for satellite digital video broadcast (DVB-S)
  • STB for cable digital video broadcast (DVB-C)
  • IPTV set-top boxes receiving video streams via IP network (Ethernet or Wi-Fi)

Set-top boxes with MPEG-2 transport stream support are quite widespread in Europe and USA. However in Russia it is planned to step right into MPEG-4 (H.264), which provides better compression ratio comparing to MPEG-2. Usually, STB consists of:

stb classification Promwad

Frontend with tuner and DVB demodulator. There is also Digital Satellite Equipment Control (DiSEqC) module in case of satellite antenna setup

Design of a custom-made enclosure

Demuxer filters incoming DVB stream and splits a transport stream into video and audio parts. Transport stream can contain some special streams like teletext or subtitles

Design of a custom-made enclosure

Conditional Access (CA) module or smartcard slot performs real-time decoding of encrypted transport stream

Design of a custom-made enclosure

Separated video and audio streams are directed to corresponding decoders

Digital TV standards


digital video broadcast by satellite


digital video broadcast by satellite, standard updated in 2004


digital video broadcast by satellite for portable and mobile devices


digital video broadcast by cable


digital video broadcast, terrestrial television


digital video broadcast, terrestrial television, standard updated in 2008


digital video broadcast, terrestrial television for mobile devices

Overview of processor manufacturers for STB

Being oriented to the mass-production consumer electronics, STB chipset manufacturers are forced to integrate more peripherals in a chip and to produce lower cost single chip solutions for BOM reduction and cutting price of a final STB device. 

Usually, the chip inside STB consists of 3 or more cores: a general purpose application processor and additional DSP-like cores dedicated to audio and video decoding. Let's give a short overview of major semiconductor companies which produce processors (system-on-chip) for set-top boxes:

ST is a top semiconductor player for STB chipsets. Currently the company's portfolio has the following processors: STi5100, STi5188, STi5105, STi5200, STi5205, STi5300, STi5516, STi5517, STi7141, STi7101, STi7105, STi7108, STi7167, STi7710, STi7200. There are many development kits from vendor with Linux, WinCE and custom RTOS support – OS21 and additional software components named OSPlus.
NXP Semiconductors
This Dutch chipmaker company become an active player in STB chipsets (especially for DVB-T) after acquisition of STB business from Connexant. However, in October of 2009, NXP refocused on automotive IC business and sold its set-top box and digital TV assets to USA based Trident Microsystems. Products are: Nexperia PNX8735 (low cost HD set-top-box decoder) & Nexperia PNX8732 (low cost SD set-top-box decoder).
Broadcom is a middle cost processors vendor for IPTV set-top boxes with a wide range of solutions: CM7038 Dual High Definition Digital Video System-on-Chip Solution for Cable, Satellite and DTV; BCM7043, BCM7118, BCM7309, BCM7400, BCM7403, BCM7404, BCM7405, BCM7410, BCM7420, BCM7452, etc.
Sigma Designs
Sigma Designs
Sigma Designs — middle cost processors for IPTV set-top boxes with the following solutions: EM8620L family, SMP8630 family, SMP8640 and SMP8650 families.
NationalChip – a strong player on the Chinese and Asian markets, which has a set-top box IC portfolio for standard definition and MPEG2 video decoding: GX1xxx – demodulator IC series (DVB-T, DVB-S, DVB-C, DTMB+DVB-C, ABS-C): GX3xxx, GX2xxx – video post-processing and MPEG2 decoder IC series; and GX6xxx – demodulator, video post processing, MPEG2 decoder System-on-Chip series.
ALi Corporation
This is another Asian manufacturer with the solutions: M3501 – DVB-S/DVB-S2 demodulator IC; M3602 – HD, MPEG-2, H.264 set-top box SoC; and M3381 – SD, MPEG-2, H.264 set-top box SoC.
Ivan Kuten Promwad

"Promwad quickly deploys an effective team of engineers of diverse qualifications, which allows us to provide top-notch services, offering the best solution in the market. By leveraging our expertise and long-term partnerships with vendors, we also help our clients find resources, thus providing expert consulting."

— Ivan Kuten, Promwad co-owner and CTO


Our case-studies in Digital TV and Online Video


Sport Club App for Smart TV: Tizen, WebOS & Android TV We've developed an application for Smart TV with live streaming, VOD, and voice control support

Android app for the biggest e-book vendor in CISAn application for Android-based devices for the selection and listening to your favourite audio books — LitRes: Listen!

Smart TV app for Tizen Samsung & WebOS LG TV We've developed an IPTV application with the TimeShifting, EPG, PVR, and pause/rewind features

Embedded UI customization for a set-top box We've created a software framework that allows the customer to change the user interface with minimal efforts

TI DM373-based SoM for video surveillance projects We've designed the CPU module based on the TI DM3730, which helps cut the time, costs, and risks of designing new products

AI application for set-top box: searching and buying products from video streaming

Shoppable video: AI-based app for STB & Smart TV We've developed and installed on STBs the first AI application for searching and buying clothes directly from the video stream

Locus DVB-T STB: : HW & SW development We have developed a digital TV set-top box (STB) with support for DVB-T (MPEG-2/4) and terrestrial digital broadcasting

promwad have designed a digital IPTV STB with DVB-T and DVB-S/S2 support, based on the SMP8654 processor by SigmaDesigns

Digital IPTV STB with DVB-T/S/S2 supportWe have designed a digital IPTV STB with DVB-T and DVB-S/S2 support, based on the SMP8654 processor by SigmaDesigns

IPTV set-top box design for SmartLabs We have developed a range of IPTV set-top boxes, ensured license coverage for all the proprietary coding standards for audio and video
Smart home multimedia controller

Smart house controller (HDMI-CEC) for a Swiss company We have designed the HDMI-CEC controller to manage a home multimedia complex: cinema, tuner, VCR and other devices

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