Rasberry Pi running Twonky is a very impressive media box

CES 2013: $35 open platform is almost a set top box

Twonky logoThe Twonky trailer at CES has something I wasn’t expecting, their server running on a Raspberry Pi. To be fair, everything runs on a raspberry Pi sooner or later, it was just the level of performance that shocked me.

For those of you that don’t know what Twonky is, it is an embedded media server that is found through uPnP and comes up as a DLNA media player. If your device can target a DLNA media player, Twonky should play what it streams. Actually, Twonky is a superset of a DLNA media player, and has a client out for a bunch of OSes to utilize those features.

Twonky’s clients are chipmakers, device makers, and content vendors, basically everyone but the consumer. They will optimize their software and license their server and related software for your chips and devices so a vendor can offer their customers a turnkey package to customize. Imagine trying to sell an embedded device or part in today’s market without a media player, streaming or not. You won’t get very far without it.

Twonky running on a Rasberry Pi

Twonky Pi looks tasty

Seeing the demo at CES was quite impressive, especially considering raspberry Pi is $35 for a complete system. Twonky is claiming that a Pi running their software will play 720p content without a problem, but were a little reluctant to claim more than that. Given the smoothness of the playback we saw on random YouTube videos, it is probably safe to say they are under-promising here. To me anyway, that is really impressive.

Twonky running on a ST Micro dev board

ST Micro and a TV tuner with Twonky

Moving on to a more conventional chip, Twonky was running on a ST Micro SoC dev board with a TV tuner. If you are thinking that this is basically a set top box with a lot of smarts, well, that is the idea. In fact there are a lot of STBs out there with Twonky, you probably just don’t realize it. The fact that a Rasberry Pi can get most of the way there on such a tiny open platform is even more impressive. Hack away and make something cool, you know you want to.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 SemiAccurate.com. SemiAccurate.com 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 SemiAccurate.com, 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.