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Summary:

Consumer electronics manufacturers, take note: If you want to roll out Google TV on the next version of your connected TV or Blu-ray player, you’re going to need some serious horsepower just to get up and running. Will Google’s hardware specs lead to a sticker shock?

google tv

Consumer electronics manufacturers, take note: If you want to roll out Google TV on the next version of your connected TV or Blu-ray player, you’re going to need some serious horsepower just to get up and running. In an interview with EETimes, Google’s head of TV technology Vincent Dureau said that in addition to expensive Intel Atom processors, CE makers would also need 1GB of unified RAM for video and application data, as well as an additional 4GB persistent flash memory for system and data storage.

In the interview, Dureau said that connected devices needed more memory than regular HDTVs for buffering while streaming over the web. “If you do the math on decoding an HD video signal, it actually takes a lot of memory — 100 to 200 Mbytes. If you start looking at connected devices in the market that support streaming over the Web they basically have quite a bit of additional ram for buffering,” he said.

At least one consumer electronics manufacturer has decided against introducing the Google TV platform into its connected devices because development of those products would be too pricey. In March, Panasonic EVP Bob Perry told Bloomberg that the Android OS would require too much processing power to make it a viable solution.

While pricing for Sony’s HDTV line or Google TV-enabled Blu-ray player have not been announced yet, the processing and RAM requirements could cause initial products to be priced at a significant premium to other connected devices already on the market. And if that’s that case, consumer adoption of Google TV could be muted in the near term.

That said, the availability of more chips that natively support the Google TV code and the gradual reduction in memory prices could lead to more affordable products to come. While initial products from Sony and Logitech will run Google TV using Intel’s CE4100 system-on-a-chip, which bakes in graphics and display processors as well as audio digital signal processors into the silicon along with the Atom processor. But in the future, other chip makers will be able to integrate Google TV functionality to their own chip designs after the company releases the code as open source — which is expected sometime next year.

“We’ve made sure there is nothing in the GoogleTV software stack that is CPU or hardware specific so we are very confident we can run on other CPUs,” Dureau told EETimes. “MIPS and ARM come to mind. We will reach scale by open sourcing the stack. I am sure many chip set vendors are eager to get their hands on the stack and start the porting. It will be available as open source in 2011. “

In addition to the Intel Atom chip and RAM necessary for building a Google TV, the first-generation hardware also require WiFi and Ethernet built into devices, as well as HDMI for video in and an “IR Blaster” to control third-party-devices.

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  1. Can anyone hazard a rough estimate at the incremental BOM cost for the hardware support required for GoogleTV relative to Yahoo Widgets in 2011 and in 2014?

    How significant will the extra hardware requirements be in the longer term?

  2. Why doesn’t Google just subsidize the BOM for the CE manufacturers? Even $100/box is nothing compared to the increase in advertising revenue they will be receiving – perpetually – from each viewer.

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  4. Yahoo Expands Widget Availability With Sony, But Google TV Looms Wednesday, June 16, 2010

    [...] limited, in part due to higher prices expected for CE products that run the Google OS. Because they require a more expensive processor and dedicated RAM, Google TV-enabled TVs and other devices are expected to be sold at a premium to [...]

  5. Smart TV: Bringing the Internet to your living room Tuesday, July 27, 2010

    [...] Ok so I know what you’re thinking, there’s gotta be some 900 pound gorilla lurking somewhere in the room. To an extent, there is.  His name is Buffering – the 30 sec + bout of frustration that occurs when a page loads slower than its broadcasted material. This is one of the major challenges that Google needs to address if they are to entice consumers of mainstream media to the web. For the time being, they are approaching this dilemma from the hardware side alone. According to Google’s head of TV Technology, Vincent Dureau, the minimum hardware requirements will include Intel’s ATOM processor, in addition to at least 1GB of unified RAM for video and audio processing as well as 4GB of persistent flash memory for system and data storage. (source) [...]

  6. Google TV is still a real attempt to TV and Web convergence, capitalizing on new powerful chipsets provided by Intel and that’s a move forward into innovation: I value this.
    One may criticize rightly the lack of stability of the Android OS, the heterogeneity of UI when switching services (Netflix, Pandora, Amazon, …), the required use of keyboard for Web browsing, it’s still a nice attempt to foster new usages, taking advantage of 2 Google strengths: search capabilities and App store linked to Android.
    I have noticed 2 other specificities: the “HDMI in” which means TV stream will be handled by another device, Google bypassing TV decoding and pay TV security management (a clever trick), and the search engine that mix at the same level TV channels contents with various contents coming from the web (dominant broadcasters will not be pleased).
    At Orange, based on the same Intel technology, we have developed a fully different approach, targeting Openness and TV and web cross fertilization: read more at goo.gl/axT4. One might say it’s natural, we are an operator and we make operator designed-for products! ;-)

  7. Google TV Is Pricing Itself Out of the Market: Video « Thursday, October 7, 2010

    [...] Google TV requires an Intel Atom processor and 4 GB of dedicated RAM for the OS to work, which drives up the cost of materials. To maintain their margins, CE makers are adding that cost to the suggested retail price. The [...]

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