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IBM has designs on set-top

Big Blue enters the market for cable set-top boxes with a design kit that lets manufacturers build a digital pay-TV receiver.

IBM (IBM) has entered the market for cable set-top boxes with a design kit for manufacturers.

The kit includes all the necessary hardware and software and enables manufacturers to build a digital pay-TV receiver that works with cable television systems or satellite services such as EchoStar, AlphaStar, and Canal+, according to the company.

IBM says that a number of major electronics companies such as Thomson Consumer Electronics and Tatung have already used IBM designs which incorporate PowerPC processors for their upcoming set-top boxes.

With software development tools, manufacturers can tailor the set-top box to provide Internet access, online shopping and gaming, and other interactive services. Microware Systems, which provides software and development tools for a number of set-top box manufacturers, says it will provide development tools and operating system software for IBM's new design kit.

The hardware portion of the design kit includes a 403GC PowerPC processor with an integrated MPEG-2 decoder chip for audio and full-motion video playback. Another chip provides integration of functions, such as infrared control, and connection to an external PC, printer, modem, or smart card reader, while a separate chip controls audio and video output to various television broadcast formats.