CEA-2040 – one of the most important CAS standards in 10 years?
CEA-2040 is in principle Common Interface moved from the old and expensive PCMCIA interface to SD Card interface.
Knowing that [micro]SD Card slot is available on most PCs, smart phones and tablets – as well as connected TVs and some STBs, the CEA-2040 now makes portable hardware based content security feasible. And it can become very user friendly.
After its definition around 1995 the Common Interface CI and later the US CableCard interface were not much used for more than 10 years. This as the TV terminals was mainly STBs with embedded CAS support as such STBs came out significantly cheaper than a STB+CAM.
In recent years the CI has eventually gained momentum. It surfs on the success of the Integrated Decoder TVs that eliminates the need for people to have a STB to receive digital TV. For an IDTV to support pay-TV, the CI slot provides the separation of the proprietary elements and the general part.
However, the CI is stuck at IDTVs as the PCMCIA form factor is not compatible with personal devices.
The most common denominator is the microSDCard slot. This as most smartphones and tablets, with a few notable exceptions, support microSD while laptop PCs and most IDTVs have at least one SD Card slot. Many STBs now come with USB slots. microSD and SD are compatible via a no-cost plastic adapter, while also low-cost microSD – USB adapters are available.
Another significant difference between STBs and IDTVs on one hand, and personal devices on the other, is personal devices being multi-purpose with TV / video not normally being the prime application. Thus, trying to embed specific CAS / content protection support in the personal devices doesn’t work. The proprietary elements need to be in a separate device or be downloadable.
By being [micro]SD card based, the CEA 2040 becomes a “Common Interface” for all devices – whether living room device or personal device. It is almost everywhere. This is the significant news!
CEA-2040 and the SD Card concept bring two user friendly bonus features.
The first is PVR. Like the PCMCIA interface, the SD Card interface is originally designed to be an interface to external memory. This means the devices supporting SD Card can already read/write to it at high speed. By CEA-2040 also specifying how to record, play-back and time-shift, microSD Card PVR is already prepared for.
The other is portability. Compared with PCMCIA, the microSD Card can easily be carried in a mobile phone to watch live or recorded content – then to be moved to an IDTV for large screen reception, and so on.