Satellite Silicon Tuner Zeros In On Free-to-Air And Operator STB Apps

Sept. 16, 2010

A satellite silicon tuner developed by NXP Semiconductors addresses the requirements of both free-to-air (FTA) and operator satellite set-top-box (STB) applications. The TDA20142 also reduces system cost thanks to a reduced bill of materials (BOM).

FTA tuners require very high sensitivity, but often ignore linearity. Operator tuners, on the other hand, don’t require the same sensitivity as FTA tuners, but need very high linearity. The TDA20142 addresses these challenges with a low noise figure of typically 5.5 dB and an IIP3 of typically +10dBm. Simultaneously, each application benefits from the enhanced performance provided by optimizations in the other. Because the TDA20142 addresses both high and low ends of the power spectrum, its dynamic range is approximately 100dB.

To achieve the sensitivity required by FTA applications, it’s very common for STB makers to use an external low-noise amplifier (LNA). By integrating this FTA LNA and loop through, the TDA20142 reduces the BOM for STB manufacturers and simplifies design. A flexible crystal oscillator and buffered clock output with optional divider further shrink the BOM, because crystal clocks then can be shared between multiple ICs.

With the TDA20142, STB manufacturers can use a single reference design for all single satellite applications, again reducing costs and avoiding the need to source and stock LNAs and multiple types of tuners. FTA broadcasters moving from standard definition to high-definition satellite STBs now have an alternative to using more expensive silicon tuners, while operators benefit from the ability to receive lower-power signals and serve markets with marginal reception.

“Until now, silicon tuners have been designed for either the FTA market or the operator market, but not both. The TDA20142 is creating a new category of satellite silicon tuner—one one suited for both FTA and operator applications—while delivering outstanding performance in both,” says Tim Kirstein, satellite RF product marketing manager for NXP.

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