ASE’s client, PACE Microtechnology Plc, developed the hardware and software for STBs, but was considering moving their software to an Indian outsource supplier. They had a requirement for two designs; both required to operate on a DVB network, the only difference between the two boxes being that one needed a cable TV modem, the other a standard telephone modem. The main concern on the project was one of time: Pace needed the STBs to be developed in less than three months in order to maintain their promised build schedule. As a large UK based producer of set top boxes, the client already had libraries of code for handling the STMicroelectronics hardware and generic DVB tables. ASE obtained the contract to develop the software for one of these set top boxes utilising whatever code and libraries were needed.
The DVB libraries had to be tailored to the end client’s needs: although the DVB standard is very well defined, a number of the fields in the tables are open to interpretation, and are frequently interpreted differently, depending upon the network installation. The overall database design for the STB was developed by ASE, together with the DVB decode routines to populate that database from the incoming data stream. A number of challenges were encountered within the hardware, relating particularly to the synchronisation of presentation times for video, audio, and subtitles on the television screen. The STM Microchip selected for the STB, was relatively new, and it was necessary to resolve the problems by delving into the driver source code and making a number of corrections. This situation is common within the STB market, as inevitably the client needs to use the latest hardware available in order to provide feature advancement. ASE has engineers who individually have over 15 years of experience of development for application, driver, or kernel levels of Linux.
- ASE’s three-man team completed the project, including developing a comprehensive test schedule, a week ahead of the client’s target.
- The client has never found a fault with the STB code as it was produced.
- A twenty-strong team from the Indian software outsource company, who started at the same time, were still working on their equivalent project three months later.
ASE’s on-time delivery of this project was instrumental in our obtaining a number of ad hoc support contracts over the following years from the same client, with a view to our supplying engineering resource to characterise and rectify faults on tight-timescale projects.