Pace showed a number of new developments at the ANGA Cable 2005 show in Cologne, including a multi-room PVR, a new MPEG-4 IPTV set-top box and a high definition MPEG-4 receiver.

Pace Micro Technology demonstrated a multi-room personal video recorder solution, designed to drive second subscription opportunities for broadcasters and capitalise on consumer demand for PVRs around the home. It enables the PVR to function as a home server, using wireless, network or coax cable connections to stream recorded content to other set-top boxes, with content protection provided in conjunction with a range of conditional access vendors.

“With the Pace multi-room system, households no longer need to fight over the main TV,” explained their director of technology, David Gillies. In the future, he said, it would enable distribution of other content within the home, including music and photos.

“Broadcasters therefore need to have multi-room on their roadmap if they are to take advantage of the revenue-generating services it will enable and to respond to their customer’s demands.”

Also on show for the first time were an IPTV set-top box with a hardware MPEG-4 AVC H.264 decoder and the first high-definition MPEG-4 set-top box.

As previously reported by informitv, the IP215 decodes MPEG-4 in hardware rather than software, and is described as an entry-level solution for the lucrative IPTV market, available for under $100 in volume.

The DS810 supports both MPEG-4 and MPEG-2 high-definition services as well as standard definition television. It supports DVB-S2, a development of the DVB standard currently which claims up to 30% greater efficiency for transmissions. Pace described it as a box that can transform high-definition readiness into reality.

However, speaking at the event, David Gillies warned of the sheer complexity of the MPEG-4 compression scheme for the delivery of high-definition channels, and particularly for personal video recorders. He said that even simple trick modes, such as fast forward and rewind would be a major challenge for digital signal processor based decoders.

Comcast deal
Pace recently announced a deal with Comcast, the largest cable operator in the United States, worth between $375 million and $550 million over three years. The Pace share price surged on the news.

Under the agreement, Pace and Comcast will jointly fund non-exclusive future technology development using Pace development expertise. Comcast will also license the Pace EngineWare software platform and related technology for the North American cable market.