Crestatech shows working software radios

Computex 2010: Any frequency, one radio

Crestatech logoYOU MIGHT REMEMBER the name Crestatech from last year’s IDF, they are making the first software defined radio. The big news from Computex is that they showed real silicon, real cards, and real software up and running on broadcast TV.

The demo itself wasn’t all that spectacular, just Taiwan’s over the air HD TV station, currently running in test mode, playing live. This may not sound like a big deal, but according to the Crestatech guys, it wasn’t a canned demo, they just came to Taiwan with their card and plugged it in. It found the local station, tuned it in, and started playing.

Crestatech playing TV

Crestatech cards running live TV

This may not sound like much, but Taiwan has very different TV standards using very different frequencies from California where the Cresta folk last fired up their laptops. The cards do not need a radio for each geographic region, they just tune themselves in software.

Everything else is handled on the CPU or GPU if your PC has one that can decode the video in hardware. The overall CPU load on the HP laptop ran around 10-15% on a quad core Nehalem during the demo, so it should be capable of running on a CoreNumberNumeral without too much problem.

Crestatech Cards

Crestatech cards

For OEMs, this is a godsend because they don’t need a different tuner for each geographic area. The radio just sets itself to receive GPS signals, figures out where it in the world it is, looks up the frequencies used in that region, and then sets itself up to grab those too. One SKU worldwide, one set of software, and one happy OEM.

The big question was whether or not it would really work, and Crestatech seems to have answered that one with a yes. We are told that there will be some PCs shipping with their radios in them later this year, so it won’t be long before you can try it for yourself.S|A

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Charlie Demerjian

Roving engine of chaos and snide remarks at SemiAccurate
Charlie Demerjian is the founder of Stone Arch Networking Services and is a technology news site; addressing hardware design, software selection, customization, securing and maintenance, with over one million views per month. He is a technologist and analyst specializing in semiconductors, system and network architecture. As head writer of, he regularly advises writers, analysts, and industry executives on technical matters and long lead industry trends. Charlie is also a council member with Gerson Lehman Group. FullyAccurate