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Google TV: what does it mean for processors?

May 25, 2010

The world of TV is changing rapidly. The recent Semico Spin article by my colleague, Michell Prunty, presents the scenario that is playing out. The entire business model for TV is changing. Over a year ago cable TV companies were reporting that their cable subscriptions were dropping, but their internet business was growing. Clearly, people like Michell were contributing to this trend.

Over the course of the last decade there has been strong growth for TV set-top boxes as well as variations, such as IP-TV and satellite TV. Concurrent with this has been the transition to digital TV and HDTV. Consumer electronics companies are now working on 3DTV. But the new business model presented by Google TV has technical implications as well.

Google’s Android is open source. In terms of a processor it is considered architecture-neutral. It should be noted that the architecture with the dominant market share in DTV, TV STB, etc. is MIPS. The company has worked closely with Google to develop and support a software ecosystem for Android on MIPS-based solutions.

The digital home market is an important market for MIPS. It will work hard to maintain its dominant position. Since Android is processor agnostic there will be increased competition from ARM, Power PC and Intel’s Atom. The new platforms will have to deliver the performance and independence that consumers are looking for.

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