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Microtune Cuts Power For VoIP Designs

Microtune Inc. said it will help cable modem designers reduce overall power consumption in voice-over-Internet Protocol designs with the release Monday of a silicon tuner that consumes less than 1 watt.

The move to providing VoIP connectivity over cable modems poses a new power-management dilemma for the design community. While end users are willing to tolerate outages in their mobile-telephony devices, they scoff at the notion of a land line phone going down. This perception is forcing cable operators to provide backup mechanisms that allow phone service to continue even if a power outage occurs.
"The goal is to support eight hours of operation in the case of a power outage," said Greg Zancewicz, director of product marketing at Microtune.

To provide backup, many cable equipment vendors are placing battery mechanisms on their modem designs to ensure system up-time. But to ensure these backup systems can hit the 8-hour mark and beyond, designers are pushing silicon vendors for components with lower power-dissipation figures.

Microtune's MT2060 silicon tuner delivers a power consumption figure of 800 mW, vs. 1.3 to 1.5 W in its earlier designs, Zancewicz said. Integration and a move to a silicon germanium process enabled the company to take this number to below 1 W, he added.

On the integration front, Microtune has moved from a differential input to a single-ended input, thus eliminating the need for an input balun. Additionally, the company has pulled in the first intermediate-frequency (IF) filter, thus reducing board space and power consumption. This integration, Zancewicz said, resulted in a 25 percent space reduction over past tuner designs.

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