Required Specs Could Make Google TV Too Pricey

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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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