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Technical Review of the TiVo Premiere

Technical Review of the TiVo Premiere



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Published by davezatz
TiVo Premiere
TiVo Premiere

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Published by: davezatz on Mar 26, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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© K.Fowler (bkdtv)
The contents of the box are as follows:1.
TiVo Premiere2.
TiVo “Enhanced” remote (XL includes “Enhanced” backlit, learning remote)3.
HDMI cable4.
Composite video and analog stereo cables5.
Ethernet cable6.
TiVo Premiere: The Complete Guide7.
TiVo Premiere: Start Here (setup guide)8.
TiVo Legal Terms9.
CableCard Installation SheetThe TIVo Premiere does not have a phone jack, so you’ll need to buy the TiVo wireless adapter, TiVophone adapter, or a third-party ethernet bridge if you can’t run an ethernet cable directly to the box.
© K.Fowler (bkdtv)
With early DVR chip designs, processor and graphics performance were not considered a priority; theforemost concern was cost. The result was more cost-effective DVRs for cable and satellite that lackedthe performance needed to support more advanced multi-room and user interface features.When the first DVR chips capable of supporting a responsive high-definition interface and robust multi-room functionality became widely available in late 2008, some questioned why there was no new TiVohardware with those features. In the end, it all came down to the software. TiVo did not want to simplyrefresh its existing UI and software for 16:9 HD. It wanted to create a new, modern interface that wouldseamlessly merge DVR and broadband media content. TiVo determined that a Flash-based UI approach – like that taken by Hulu, Boxee, Netflix, and others—was the most effective way to do that.Broadcom announced Flash Lite support for its new and upcoming chips in January 2009, but it took thebetter part of the year for that support to mature to a production state. When TiVo was satisfied thatBroadcom’s Flash implementation would meet its needs, the company selected the highest-performance DVR chip available (BCM7413) to form the core of its new Series4 hardware platform.The BCM7413 represents an across-the-board upgrade; it upgrades every major subsystem, includingthe CPU, memory controller, 2D/3D graphics, decoders, and disk controller. The most notable feature of the new chip is a dual-core, 400MHz MIPS32/16e CPU. That isn’t much by PC standards, but issubstantial improvement over the single-core, 300MHz MIPS CPUs found in most DVRs.It is worth noting that unlike PCs, the chips in all modern DVRs feature dedicated hardware videodecoders for MPEG-2, MPEG-4 AVC, and VC-1, with a media switch to decouple decode and playbackoperations from the CPU. As a result, the CPU is left free to handle the embedded operating system(usually Linux), the DVR software and interface, and any associated features such as multi-room viewing.
© K.Fowler (bkdtv)
3Like other recent 65nm Broadcom SoCs, the BCM7413 features an improved 2D graphics core – knownas the Memory-to-Memory Compositor, or M2MC. This part of the chip is responsible for compositingregions of the on-screen display and scaling them to the output resolution. Coupled with the faster CPU,this new graphics core makes it possible to support more compelling interface designs on set-tops.Superior processing power is of little use if the system lacks the bandwidth to take advantage of it.Many DirecTV subscribers witnessed the importance of memory bandwidth when the dual-chip HR20design was replaced with the single-chip HR21/HR22/HR23. All featured similar raw CPU performance,but the newer models eliminated the second memory channel for the decoder, instead sharing a single64-bit DDR memory channel between the CPU, graphics subsystem, and video decoders. That took vitalbandwidth way from the system and performance suffered as a result.The TiVo Premiere features a new 64-bit DDR2 memory controller that provides 6400 MB/s of memorybandwidth. That’s twice the amount of most cable and satellite DVRs based on single-chip solutions,and a 35-50% improvement over past dual-chip designs like the TiVo Series3, DirecTV HR20, and DishNetwork ViP722. TiVo also equipped the Premiere with 512MB of DDR2-800 memory—twice that of the latest cable and satellite DVRs, and four times the amount of most DVRs in cable homes.After subtracting the memory reserved for the decoders and other hardware, the Premiere has roughly384MB RAM available for the embedded Linux OS, TiVo software, and future third-party applications.Contrast that to the 24MB available on the TiVo Series2 and 128MB on the TiVo HD. Most cable DVRs
020040060080010001200TiVo Series1(1999)TiVo Series2(2001)DirecTiVo HR10(2004)TiVo Series3(2006)TiVo HD(2007)TiVo Premiere(2010)
Processor Performance
Performance in Dhrystone MIPS -Higher is Better
TiVo Premiere TiVo HD TiVo Series3 TiVo Series2Memory
512MB DDR2-800 256MB DDR400 256MB DDR400 32MB DDR266
Memory interface
1x 64-bit DDR2 1x 64-bit DDR1x 64-bit DDR1x 32-bit DDR1x 16-bit DDR
Memory bandwidth
6400 MB/s 3200 MB/s <4800 MB/s 525 MB/s

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Aaditi Lathi added this note
There are little touches that anyone can appreciate: A disk space meter. Show titles change colors once watched. The 30-second commercial skip? That's been programmed into a dedicated "scan" button that flashes half a minute by in just a handful of frames (to keep advertisers happy). Plus, I have it in good faith that TiVo won't be eliminating the classic 30-second skip, either. http://www.gizmos
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