The Intel CE4100 (codenamed Sodaville) was introduced on September 24, 2009 at the Intel Developer Forum. Based on the Atom CPU, it is a full blown SoC. A basic block diagram of the CE4100 is shown below.


The x86 core in the SoC is based on the Atom CPU. We suspect that the CE4100 is a slightly modified single die implementation of the Lincroft and Langwell SOCs used in Moorestown, albeit in the 45nm process. While the Moorestown platform had a 32 bit DDR interface, the CE4100 increases this to 64. Other than that, the core components for the OpenGL and video decode support seem to be the same.

The Atom core with 512K of L2 cache is the host processor in the SoC. Though the internal L1 cache details are not public, it is likely to be the same as that of the Lincroft SoC which had 24K of data cache and 32K of instruction cache. Owing to a single die implementation, as well as the process geometry, the TDP of the SoC must be a bit high compared to Lincroft or Langwell taken alone. The higher DRAM bus width also contributes to an increase in the TDP.

The memory controller can support two separate channels of 32-bit DDR2-800/DDR3-1333. This is in contrast to the single channel 32 bit DRAM support in the Tegra 250 which was the earlier SoC under consideration. A NAND flash controller helps the system boot from attached Flash storage. The ability to boot from NAND flash has the potential to reduce the board costs.

Next, we shift our attention to the most interesting gray box in the diagram. This block consists of the video decoder, display processor and the graphics processor. While the block diagram removes any doubt that the graphics processor used is the same as the one used in the iPhone 4 (Imagination Technologies PowerVR SGX535), the origins of the other two components are not entirely clear. We have been led to believe that Imagination Technologies is behind these components as well. The decoder would be a member of the PowerVR VXD series, and it is indicated that two simultaneous HD streams can be decoded. There is also hardware acceleration for decoding JPEG pictures, so one may possibly look forward to snappy photo slideshows in products using this SoC. The scaling, noise reduction and deinterlacing features of the display processor need proper programming in order to be able to deliver good results, and the quality of the Intel drivers would ultimately decide the HQV scores for media streamers based on this SoC. The display controller also needs proper configuration in case a product based on this SoC is supposed to end up supporting native frame rates. It is also responsible for OSD blending, subtitles and miscellaneous video functions.

From the perspective of the Boxee Box, the Audio/Video inputs go unused. However, using this SoC in a DVR / PVR system would make the usage of these inputs necessary. For media streamers, HDMI 1.3a is the key feature. Considering that this SoC was launched almost one year back, the absence of HDMI 1.4 is excusable. For general I/O, we have GbE support, but the Boxee Box only enables 100 Mbps Ethernet. The 2 SATA ports also go unused, but both the USB 2.0 host ports are taken advantage of. Some of the other I/O ports are configured for supporting SDIO. Without a look at the board, and knowledge of the pin configuration, it is not evident which I/Os are configured for supporting the SD card.

The CE4100 also sports a dual audio DSP from Tensilica, the Tensilica HiFi2. It is capable of downmixing / decoding two lossless HD audio streams (as per Blu-Ray bitrate specifications) simultaneously. The Transport Processor would be useful for a STB product. We have been given to understand that the security processor is not disabled in the Boxee Box. This should enable the Boxee Box to access premium online content and also get a license from the Blu-Ray consortium.

Tegra 2 Out, CE 4100 In Analyzing the Boxee Box Specifications
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  • chickamauga - Thursday, September 16, 2010 - link

    Actually they can't. The claim on their website are just false (just do a google, it's a request on the WD TV wish list for years). Same for PCH, no can do.

    Neither Realtek or Sigma chipsets can do true ASS/SSA
  • taltamir - Tuesday, September 14, 2010 - link

    it sounds nice... but why is the form factor so hideous? how do you place this in your living room? it needs to be a normal rectangular box, not this weird abstract sculpture they have
  • teohhanhui - Tuesday, September 14, 2010 - link

    Perhaps we could learn to appreciate art.
  • Saosin - Tuesday, September 14, 2010 - link

    Does it have AFP support?
  • boschMAN - Tuesday, September 14, 2010 - link

    Anand, will the Boxee Box support external USB DVB-T digital tv tuners?
  • racerx_is_alive - Tuesday, September 14, 2010 - link

    I heard a while back that they were intending to sell the remote separately for people who had built HTPCs. Do you know if that's still the case?
  • teohhanhui - Tuesday, September 14, 2010 - link
  • rays4 - Tuesday, September 28, 2010 - link

    Will Boxee box also serve as NAS, and the Drives attached to the Boxee box via USB show up on home network? Any ideas on that
  • Wolfpup - Wednesday, September 29, 2010 - link

    So is this about the hard wired video decode abilities of Tegra 2? Because shouldn't dual core 1GHz A9s be considerably more powerful than a single core 1.2GHz Atom?

    If it's a GPU issue, then...well, then why the heck aren't more devices using Atom, as that's pathetic...
  • BoxeeWhatNow? - Monday, November 1, 2010 - link

    Apologies to the cognoscenti...

    These two sentences, please to explain to me please:

    We have been given to understand that the security processor is not disabled in the Boxee Box.
    No support for playback of DRM content from external Blu-Ray or DVD drives as of now.

    Er, so if I have an external USB drive, or network share that holds, backups, I would not be able to stream that content via the BoxeeBox?

    Device-wise, I must be mistaken. I can't plug the DVD-drive/player into the BoxeeBox to pass thru the signal? I guess an HDMI splitter is called for. Given that these chips can handle the encoding, I wasn't planning on getting an AV receiver...(the speakers are all self-powered and wireless: Aperion)

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