ARM joins the NFV race with virtual set-top box spec

All your STBs are belong to the cloud

ARM has become the latest silicon vendor to pitch a major network function virtualisation (NFV) strategy, and has announced a partnerships with Applied Micro and Netzyn, and with Enea.

Under the ARM-Applied Micro-Netzyn agreement (announced here), the three partners will create and demonstrate a virtual set-top box for pay TV delivery.

Under the vSTB reference platform the pals intend to put together, Applied Micro X-Gene server-on-a-chip solutions would live in the carrier cloud to run STB functions (like UI, electronic program guide, and even STB-based gaming), turning the STB into a simpler, dumber device.

This is in line with what ETSI has set out in its Proof of Concept documents, and will be demonstrated at the upcoming NVF World Congress.

Ultimately, ARM reckons, the virtualisation of the STB would reduce the customer-side device footprint down to a dongle-level form factor or an app in the TV (the latter, The Reg's networking desk reckons, being an ideal way for pay TV operators to try and capture customers forever).

Both of these would open up a new consumer market for ARM's devices, either in the dongles or to run the STB apps in TVs.

In its other agreement, with Enea, ARM says the two will be jointly showcasing an ARM-based reference Open Platform for NFV (OPNFV).

In its canned statement, the company lists example NFV applications the two will be demonstrating: OpenStack, OpenDaylight, Open vSwitch, KVM and a Linux-based Open DataPlan (ODP).

If the world of virtualisation needed validation, the silicon vendors are providing it, increasingly seeking to plant their flag in what they clearly see as the coming thing.

That's perhaps best exemplified by Intel's interest in the space, seeking to capture virtualised carrier functions like broadband modems into the warm embrace of x86 architectures. ®

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