TiVo Mini Tuner Allocation Details Revealed

Dave Zatz —  February 20, 2013 — 32 Comments

suddenlink-tivo-mini

TiVo Mini extenders have begun to arrive in Suddenlink customer homes. And, thanks to numerous contributions by TiVo Community forum member spotterman26, retail launch functionality has been clarified. While true dynamic tuner allocation remains out of reach, and pushed back on TiVo’s roadmap according to sources, the situation isn’t as dire as it appeared at first glance. Each 4 tuner TiVo DVR can host a max of two TiVo Mini clients, yet two Minis can hijack share a single tuner… if you don’t intend to use them simultaneously. As described by TiVo:

Do you want to allow devices on your home network to use a tuner on this TiVo Box to watch live TV? Only select 2 tuners if you expect 2 networked devices to watch live TV at the SAME TIME.

NOTE: Any tuner that is made available for watching live TV on other devices can NO LONGER BE USED TO RECORD SHOWS on this DVR. If you allow 1 tuner to be used, this DVR will only be able to record 3 shows at a time. If you allow 2 tuners to be used, this DVR will only be able to record 2 shows at a time.

Further, it appears the TiVo Mini may release a tuner it believes is unused after 90 minutes resulting in the “PRESS TiVo or Live TV” screensaver of sorts displayed below.

tivo-mini-tuner-allocation

Some additional good news, in that spotterman has run a few speed comparisons and confirms the Mini is noticeably faster than his TiVo Q DVR in several areas. For example, YouTube launches in under 15 seconds on his Mini versus more than 30 on the TiVo. Further, navigating within an app like YouTube and accessing TiVo Search feel less laggy overall. Whether it’s due to less overhead or an updated processor remains to be see. But we’ll count it as a victory either way. Sources indicate a retail TiVo Mini announcement is just weeks away, so all that really remains is pricing details.

Update: Looks like several people, including this TiVo Employee, can confirm the TiVo Mini runs a significantly faster Broadcom BCM7418.

tivo-mini-broadcom

 

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32 responses to TiVo Mini Tuner Allocation Details Revealed

  1. Lets just hope for no monthly fee. I’d probably get it in that case.

  2. Any word on the six tuner models? I’d be ok with static tuner allocation if I had six of them. =^)

  3. Michael,
    Tivo has basically already said their will be a service fee, monthly or one time (lifetime). I personally view one time as no fee (just splitting the box cost between to payments). However, others can’t get past that. I hope the pricing is reasonable either way.

  4. FWIW the XG1 w/TiVo launches YouTube in 15 seconds as well…

  5. Do you have any intel on what’s powering the TiVo Mini? I’m still trying to get a good pic of the security screws so I can pass along a tool to a variety of contenders for a looksee.

  6. “Do you have any intel on what’s powering the TiVo Mini?”

    Rumor has it that it’s a Motorola 68000 running @ 7.8336 MHz.

    YouTube launches in 15 seconds and MacPaint launches in under 30 seconds.

    (It’s the shift from Adobe Air to QuickDraw that really speeds things up.)

  7. Yeah, that Hypercard upgrade is stellar. By the way, you get any packages recently?

  8. I think it’s your basic #10 torx.

  9. “By the way, you get any packages recently?”

    Huh. So that’s what that is. Sitting unexamined and unopened, as I’d assumed it was an Amazon purchase I didn’t need for a bit.

  10. I would be okay with a “lifetime” fee if it is still reasonable. I’ve only once had a Tivo monthly fee and that was for a box that I was certain I wouldn’t keep long enough for lifetime to be cheaper.

  11. Since it appears that the XG1 launches YouTube in approximately the same amount of time as the Mini, my speculation is the Mini s powered by a Broadcom processor that has a least 3000 DMIPS. Maybe the BCM7418. We know from other reports that the XG1 is powered by the BCM7425.

    http://www.broadcom.com/press/release.php?id=s541251

  12. A trusted engineering resource says that the Mini uses the BCM7418. Not a lot of actual specs are published about it, but that’s what it is.

  13. A Google search of BCM7418 and Tivo almost confirms the use of the BCM7418.

  14. Yeah, looks like while the 40nm BCM7425 (Jan 2011) is a dual-core 6000DMIPS 1.3GHz MIPS 32 core. The BCM7418 announced at the same time is a bit more of a cipher.

    Best guess would be a single core version of the same thing given the similar performance in a TiVo application.

    Seems to be code-named Zephyr. Or actually it looks like that’s the code-name for the BRCM 5000 MIPS CPU. The page on the EETimes article on that CPU core certainly implies that there are single core (dual threaded) versions planned (see Fig 1).

    http://www.eetimes.com/electronics-news/4210983/Broadcom-reveals-CPU-development

    You can get a lot more detail (and the third page) in Microprocessor Report:

    http://www.broadcom.com/docs/articles/MPR_11-22-10.pdf

    Looks like it has some nice power management enhancements–it can scale the voltage down when CPU utilization is low.

    Looks like the successor, Frenzy, was supposed to sample in 2012. Wonder if that happened?

  15. @Glenn,

    Nice find on those reports. The Broadcom news release a few months after the date of the EE Times article sure implies dual-threaded on both the Pace XG1′s BCM7425 and the BCM7418 “connected client”. 6000 DMIPS is almost 6x the hardware processing performance of the 400 MHz BCM7413 in the Premiere series which provides 1100 DMIPS of performance.

    With Mike and Joel’s comments above and a find of this report from Wakely RF on the Mini, I think we can pretty much check the box that the Mini is using the BCM7418 — a second generation connected client STB SoC with MoCA 1.1 that works together with server STB SoCs (such as the BCM7425 and the BCM7422) for enabling whole-home connectivity and features multi-room DVR and support for other connected home applications.

    http://wakeleyrf.com/rf.html

    I would guess that the designs that TiVo will reveal later this year will also feature the BCM7425. I’m not sure I understand your inference that there are single core versions. It appears from the Broadcom news release that the entire line (BCM7425/7424/7418) of SoCs feature, “MIPS®-based 1.3GHz dual threaded applications processor with an additional 3000 DMIPS of hardware processing performance, totaling 6000 DMIPS”.

  16. Parsing the Broadcom Press Release from Jan 4, 2011 some more makes me a bit less certain on how many threads the BCM7418 supports.

    http://www.broadcom.com/press/release.php?id=s541251

    They speak about introducing two (2) new 40nm cable STP SoCs — the BCM7425 & BCM7424. Then they go on to introduce the BCM7418 that works together with the two announced processors. I’m now leaning towards a single thread with 3000 DMIPS of performance.

  17. It makes sense to use one chip from a cost perspective, but you would think they would opt for a more powerful chip when it comes to the actual TiVo. The Mini doesn’t have to do the same amount of tasks in the background so it makes sense to use the next model up for the actual DVRs. If not they run the risk of the same situation we have now where the XL4/Elite is slower than the Premiere which would be slower than the Mini.

  18. @Sam,

    Don’t confuse “dual-threaded” with “dual-core”. The first brings in an innovation that Intel has had for a while now. That a single physical core on the die can run more than one thread at a time. The second thread takes advantage of wait states in the first thread to improve overall efficiency. The Microprocessor Report article goes into some detail about it. Dual core means 2X CPU. Dual threading means less than that, maybe +30 or +50% vs. a single threaded version of the same thing.

    The 7418 is (maybe) a single CPU core, with dual threading (2T). The 7425 is a dual core design. Each core capable of 2T. So still double the DMIPS of the 7418.

  19. I’ve searched the web for 7418 info over the last few months and there really isn’t a whole lot of useful public data to absorb. I’d prefer that over extrapolation. Does Broadcom share product info with journalists?

  20. Mike, what kind of info are you looking for? I could inquire with Broadcom – they follow me on Twitter.

  21. Anything and everything they’re willing to share on the specs/performance of the 7418, so we don’t have to speculate. Thanks!

  22. Open ended questions like that are hard… if we take that approach, I’d just ask for a data sheet. But can’t we find that online?

  23. A data sheet with # of DMIPS, # of Cores, CPU Speed, would be a great start.

  24. The online data sheet has little useful information, so something with the specs Sam just indicated would be perfect.

  25. With the huge improvement in ARM architecture thanks to the explosion of the smartphone industry, it’s a shame they don’t use an ARM based CPU. Our smartphones run circles around any Broadcom / MIPS based set top box (TiVo, Motorola, DirecTV, DishNetwork, Pace, etc…).

    If not use ARM, something from intel per chance? However ARM is very good with power management. A few mere milliwatts and I can run thousands of apps on an iPhone or android with full 3D gaming graphics and all that.

  26. Broadcom should of invested in something like Apples A6X CPU to integrate on its SoC. I mean it pushes 3D quality, fast low latency graphics on iPads with RETINA displays (better than HDTV!). You see how beautiful and fast the interface is on an iPad. Plus its designed to run on that battery pack.. not a wall outlet… so power management has to be key here.

    Limited CPU performance will always cause these STB’s to feel laggy and lackluster in performance. Especially with how spoiled we have become with our multi-core ARM based tablets and smartphones.

  27. My first thought is I don’t think we’re getting 3000 DMIPS out of the 7418. That grade of CPU all seem to have standardized on MoCA 2.0, and we know the Mini and the 7418 are 1.1. It wouldn’t surprise me if it were more of a stripped-down 7410, with 1500 dmips. A slight boost over the Premiere coupled with no recording overhead COULD potentially give us the improvement we’re seeing. And it also has moca 1.1 integrated.

    The Premiere’s 1100 dmips is theoretical unless the system takes full advantage of 2 cores. (Does AIR support that yet?) The 7410 is a single core but multithreaded at 1500. I would bet that this type of chip’s performance is slightly more easily harnessed in a Tivo device.

    So that’s what I’m thinking until we can hear from Broadcom. But that’s my own speculation and I could be completely and totally off. I hope they’re willing to share information.

  28. … Plus we have Jim Denney saying the Mini’s chip is roughly equivalent to the XL4′s chip in Megazone’s article. Which on paper just sounds more like 1500 dmips rather than 3000.

  29. @Mike,

    I’m not sure how you can make the inference that MoCA 1.1 equates to a lower grade CPU. The BCM7425 powers the brand-new Dish Hopper with Sling that was announced at January’s CES and they show the BCM7418 as the “Home Networking” companion to the BCM7425. Incidentally, the BCM7425 was first announced as MoCA 1.1 and later changed to MoCA 2.0. From an extender perspective, I’m not sure the bump up to MoCA 2.0 provides any advantages.

    One other data point, Dish’s Joey extender box is powered by a 450MHz Broadcom BCM7340 single-chip (1100 DMIPs), multi-format HD satellite STB solution, featuring an integrated MoCA® (Multimedia over Coax Alliance) 1.1 core that allows DISH to deploy multi-room DVR capabilities while significantly reducing cost and power associated with separate DVR units.

    The Joey is using a chip that was announced in Sept. 2009 while the BCM7418 was announced in January 2011. I can’t imagine TiVo selecting a SoC that doesn’t meet Adobe Air for TV minimum standards.

    I still think the best guess is a minimum of 3000 DMIPS for the BCM7418 based on the commentary above and the YouTube launch speed.

  30. Suddenlink Shannon February 21, 2013 at 7:13 pm

    Hi- My name is Shannon and I am with Suddenlink. If you are interested in the TiVo mini, or have any questions I can help answer, please feel free to email me. My direct email is shannon-AT-suddenlink-DOT-com. Thank you!

  31. Any relation to TiVo Shannon?

  32. Re. Broadcom data sheets. Broadcom doesn’t publish data sheets. To get access to detailed info you have to have a docsafe account with them, and all the data sheets are watermarked with your company name, password locked, etc etc. Sorry, that’s just how they do it. So you’re not going to find them online publicly no matter how hard you search. Now, more limited specs like DMIPS, cores etc you may be able to get a hold of somehow.

    The stripped down public page is here:

    http://www.broadcom.com/products/Cable/Cable-Set-Top-Box-Solutions/BCM7418

    As far as the whole MIPS vs. ARM thing, I’d say to remember that this is not just a CPU, its a whole SoC (System on a Chip) with encoders, decoders, MoCA, etc etc. Lots of stuff. I presume the CPU is a significant part of the die area, but still, lots of other things. You can’t just drop in an ARM core.

    Broadcom is of course committed to MIPS having bought the company a while back. However, they haven’t (completely) ignored ARM and are starting to ship ARM cores in certain markets like switches (with Northstar for example). Not leading edge, but competitive. Yes I assume they can see the writing on the wall but it takes a while for a whole company to change direction…

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