Print 15 comment(s) - last by Sahrin.. on May 4 at 10:54 AM

The CableCard-ready TV Wonder Digital Cable Tuner
ATI's newest TV tuner bug forces system manufacturers to delay Media Center PCs

AMD's newest CableCard endeavor may have hit a snag.  Systems manufactured with the ATI TV Wonder Digital Cable Tuner have a bug that has halted shipments of the new PCs.

ATI engineers claim the bug is very minor. "The bug occurs when the TV Wonder Digital Cable Tuner attempts to sync signal on an all-digital tuner," said one AMD Taiwan engineer. 

The bug seems to affect those who have TV Wonder Digital Cable Tuners with specific all-digital providers.  With the current firmware, users will get a "no signal error" after inserting the CableCard.

"[We] will send out firmwares to fix the sync problem in the next week," added the engineer.  Firmware upgrades will be made available to any customers who already have tuners.  In the interim, ATI has stopped shipment on new batches of the tuners until it can ship cards with the newest updates.

"The firmware updates have essentially delayed our [system] shipments by two weeks," stated a North American system manufacturer.

Other system builders state that the bug can easily be fixed by rebooting the tuner. Velocity Micro, who unveiled the first CableCard-ready PCs in North America, declined to comment about the bug.

This is not the first time ATI has run into bug problems at launch.  A crippling error forced all TV Wonder 650 Tuners off store shelves until proper firmwares could fix QAM sync errors.  Today, however, the TV Wonder 650 is one of the most reliable and robust tuners on the market.

Update 04/05/07: AMD Multimedia product manager Shane Parfitt adds the following:
With one specific CableCard from Scientific Atlanta Networks, the digital cable signal is lost if the ATI TV Wonder Digital Cable Tuner switches to analog reception and then back again.  It’s important to note that it's just this one card – the ATI TV Wonder Digital Cable Tuner is compatible with all the other currently available cards, such as those from Motorola (which has over half the market) and even others from Scientific Atlanta Networks.  However, we’ve been able to find a work around for it in our hardware, through a firmware update, and we anticipate that this will be with our customers by the end of April.  The delay is mostly due to the certification process CableLabs requires for this change.

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TV Wonder 650
By Webgod on 4/5/2007 9:42:22 PM , Rating: 3
Today, however, the TV Wonder 650 is one of the most reliable and robust tuners on the market.

Unless you try to use more than one on an Intel brand motherboard. In XP MCE or Vista.

RE: TV Wonder 650
By Webgod on 4/5/2007 9:44:37 PM , Rating: 3
it is all irrelevant
By sprockkets on 4/7/2007 12:57:37 AM , Rating: 2
When you consider you cannot even buy the card but only get it preinstalled in OEM prebuilt systems due to "security," no self respecting anandtech reader will buy it.

Whoa There, Nelly
By Sahrin on 5/4/2007 10:52:37 AM , Rating: 2
Listen folks, I'm all about jumping down the throats of manufacturers who release buggy hardware. But this isn't a situation where ATI released hardware with a fundamental design flaw to the open market and tried to hide the problem (Intel PIII math error), nor is it a problem where they deliberately released buggy/piss poor hardware/Software(GeForce FX 5800 Ultra; GeForce 8800GTX; Creative Labs Soundblaster Anything).

DAAMIT screwed up here, but they are being completely up front about it - and in spite of a potentially huge amount of money to be made after they developed an incredibly expensive product (hey, it could be a hit - you never know), they are HOLDING A PRODUCT BACK to fix it first. They are idiots for screwing it up, but they are upstanding corporate citizens for MAKING SURE IT WORKS, BEFORE the release.

Take it easy with the bashing, or you won't have any companies like this left.

Imagine that!
By Cobra Commander on 4/5/07, Rating: -1
RE: Imagine that!
By mezrah on 4/5/2007 3:15:12 PM , Rating: 2
Where are you getting the impression that they are not supporting it properly. Did you even read the article?

RE: Imagine that!
By Cobra Commander on 4/5/07, Rating: -1
RE: Imagine that!
By mezrah on 4/5/2007 4:56:13 PM , Rating: 2
Still, that doesn't mean that this particular product, which hasn't even launched to the public yet, is poorly supported. That may be the case in the future, but as it stands right now, they are trying to fix the problems before it goes out to public. That = good support now. That may change.

RE: Imagine that!
By Cobra Commander on 4/5/2007 6:05:09 PM , Rating: 1
Agreed. They've simply lost my trust.

RE: Imagine that!
By alifbaa on 4/5/2007 6:52:52 PM , Rating: 3
I don't see why this would damage your trust in ATI. I'm not a fanboy or anything. I own both ATI and NVidia, Intel and AMD.

This is an entirely new product in an entirely new category of products, and it hasn't even been released yet. In fact, unlike many companies (Linksys, Netgear, and M$ come to my mind right away) they are refusing to release this product until it is more stable. Believe me, this is costing them some serious money. There are likely penalty clauses and lost advertising fees they are paying for not pushing this product out the door and relying on consumers to update the firmware -- an undoubtedly very simple process.
All but a very few companies would have shoved this out and claimed everything was working great then just put out a new file on the website. I think you should chill out, take a deep breathe, and understand that this is not as simple as getting your clock radio to work properly. This product will get a lot better in the next several months, and more competitors will enter the market and come up with even better stuff for us, undoubtedly screwing it up and allowing us to gripe about it.

RE: Imagine that!
By zsouthboy on 4/5/2007 3:19:08 PM , Rating: 2

It's sad isn't it?

I have at least 2 or 3 various ati tuner cards.

Even when they were new, the drivers and such never really worked right.

RE: Imagine that!
By tdawg on 4/5/2007 5:31:39 PM , Rating: 2
You might want to check out Anand's article on the OCUR device. If you'd read that, you'd know that Microsoft is writing the driver for the OCUR device, not AMD/ATI.

RE: Imagine that!
By alifbaa on 4/5/2007 6:45:07 PM , Rating: 2
You're right, but this article is talking about a firmware issue, not a driver issue. ATI makes the firmware internal to the hardware, Microsoft makes the driver that interfaces between the OS and the hardware.

RE: Imagine that!
By bplewis24 on 4/5/2007 5:37:33 PM , Rating: 3
You have to keep in mind that CableCard has had an overwhelming amount of problems in it's implementation and functionality since day 1. This could just be the CableCard spec biting them in the arse. Dealing with CC has never been easy. You can brose the AVS forum and see all the topics about it.


RE: Imagine that!
By Sahrin on 5/4/2007 10:54:57 AM , Rating: 2
Ditto - Cable Card was basically designed from the beginning to lockout third party hardware. I'm impressed ATI had a solution this fast (especially given CableLabs inability/unwillingness to develop software encryption as mandated by the FCC).

"If you can find a PS3 anywhere in North America that's been on shelves for more than five minutes, I'll give you 1,200 bucks for it." -- SCEA President Jack Tretton
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