[CableCARD Description] [Interface ICs]
[PC Card Standard Organizations]
[Pin-Out] [PCMCIA Connectors]
[PCMCIA Cards]

CableCard Description

A CableCARD is a PCMCIA, Type II PC Card. The CableCARD is used in place of a set top cable decoder box, and plugs into the HD TV to provide the cable decoder function. Other terms include M-Card [Multi-Stream CableCard] or Digital Cable Ready [DCR].
The PC Card PCMCIA specification defines both the Electrical and Physical specifications for a 68 pin interface residing in one of 3 form factors, which differ only in thickness;
Type I: dimensions 3.3mm x 85.6mm x 54.0mm (TxLxW), Version 2.1 allows the length to increase 50mm to 135mm
Type II: dimensions 5.0mm x 85.6mm x 54.0mm (TxLxW), Version 2.1 allows the length to increase 50mm to 135mm
Type III: dimensions 10.5mm x 85.6mm x 54.0mm (Tall x Length x Width)

The implementation of this spec based on the ISA bus is termed the PC Card with a 8/16 bit data bus, 26 address lines, and no bus mastering. PC Card-16 cards use an 8-bit or 16-bit interface that operates at ISA bus speeds (10 MHz) using an ISA-like asynchronous protocol. All of the PCMCIA implementations use Plug and Play and have Hot Swapping capabilities. The 16-bit PCMCIA 'PC Card' will operate up to a maximum of 20MBps, or 160Mbps. The actual throughput will depend on the minimum cycle time and the transfer mode and will never reach the maximum throughput rates. Back to the main PCMCIA Bus page.

Comparison of Removable Memory Card sizes by Board Dimension

Flash memory cards vs. PC Card format.

CableCard is a PCMCIA slot and PCMCIA card, a tuner card that can be inserted into a slot in the TV to replace a cable set-top box.

Some TV descriptions indicate the term CableCard, while others indicate Digital Cable Ready [see below]. I was only able to find a few HDTV units from Hitachi which came with a CableCard slot. I see a few from Sony too. The CableCard allows the user to plug cable directly into a TV set without the need for a set-top box [STB]. CableCard slots may also be found on Digital Video Recorders [DVR]

Version 1 of CableCard was 'one-way' only so with out the cable decoder box things like 'pay-per-view' was unavailable [S-Mode, S-Card]. Version 2 released in June of 2007 should be fixing this problem [I have not yet reviewed it] and allows two-way communication [M-Mode; M-Card]. As of July 07 according to an FCC ruling; cable companies now have to supply set-top boxes that come with a removable CableCard. The ruling may bring CableCard back from the dead, but by Dec 2009 the FCC appeared to be looking for another solution without CableCard. Refer to this Blog posting [1/8/10] on CableCard to see the current status.

Digital Cable Ready [DCR], this attribute describes a TV that incorporates a CableCARD slot to facilitate the reception of one-way digital cable content (which may include analog, digital, high-definition and/or premium programming) without the need for a set-top box. A CableCARD is typically provided for a nominal monthly fee by the cable provider. Sets may also use the term Digital Cable Turner.

As of 1/5/2011 it's a bit hard to tell what will happen with CableCard or what the FCC is doing with the requirement. CableCard is based on an obsolete PCMCIA interface. If it comes with a leased or rented set-top-box, the consumer doesn't even know they have it, and if a person purchases a set-top-box they still have to call the cable company to get the CableCard installed or activated. ExpressCard is the replacement for the PC Card version of PCMCIA which CableCard is based on; in addition many PC Card based components just use USB as their new replacement, so PC Card based components are an obsolete interface. Although a smaller form factor is being used by the newer ExpressCard standard. Even the PCMCIA manufacturers association, which promoted PCMCIA has disbanded.

The FCC indicated in October 2010 that "since July 1, 2007, cable operators have deployed more than 22.75 million leased devices pre-equipped with CableCARDs, compared to only 531,000 CableCARDs installed in retail devices connected to their networks."

{PC Card CableCARD Index}

CableCARD Standard Organizations

The PC Card specification was released in 2001; version 8.0

CableCARD Interface 1.0 Specification, OC-SP-CC-IF-C01-050331; March 2005
CableCARD Interface 2.0 Specification, OC-SP-CCIF2.0-I11-070615; June 2007
CableCARD Interface 2.0 Specification, OC-SP-CCIF2.0-I20-091211; December 2009
Note although the latest CableCard specification is release 20, the revision stayed at 2.0.
However this revision incorporates the latest ECNs.

Personal Computer Memory Card International Association


Although some what un-related to the CableCard interface the FCC ruled the following in Oct. 2010
"Effective July 1, 2011, include both: (A) a DVI or HDMI interface and (B) a connection capable of delivering recordable high definition video and closed captioning data in an industry standard format on all high definition set-top boxes, except unidirectional set-top boxes without recording functionality, acquired by a cable operator for distribution to customers."

{CableCard PC Card Index}

PCMCIA Bus Interface ICs

STMicroelectronics {Multi-Stream CableCARD interface, DOCSIS 2.0+ cable modem chip with channel bonding}

IC Manufacturers {General Listing}

{PCMCIA CableCARD Index}

PCMCIA Connector Manufacturers

The PC Card uses a 68 pin connector, with two rows of 34 pins, with 0.05 inch spacing [1.27mm]. Female pins are used on the card side, male pins on the system end.
The power and ground pins are longer than the signal lines, allowing them to make connect first.

Physical Dimensions of the PC Card Connector, Molex

Connector Vendors;
DDK Electronics, Inc
Foxconn Electronics
Methode Electronics Inc.
Molex Inc.
OUPIIN America Inc.

{CableCard PC Card Index}

PC Card, Pin Out

The table provides the pinout for the 16-bit PC Card.

PCMCIA 68-pin Connector Pin Out And Signal names
Pin # Signal name Pin # Signal name Pin # Signal name Pin # Signal name Pin # Signal name
1 Ground 15 WE 29 A0 43 VS1/RFSH 57 VS2/RFU
2 D3 16 Ready 30 D0 44 Reserved 58 Reset
3 D4 17 Vcc 31 D1 45 Reserved 59 Wait
4 D5 18 Vpp1 32 D2 46 A17 60 Reserved
5 D6 19 A16 33 Wp 47 A18 61 Reg
6 D7 20 A15 34 GND 48 A19 62 BVD2
7 CE1 21 A12 35 GND 49 A20 63 BVD1
8 A10 22 A7 36 CD1 50 A21 64 D8
9 OE 23 A6 37 D11 51 Vcc 65 D9
10 A11 24 A5 38 D12 52 Vpp2 66 D10
11 A9 25 A4 39 D13 53 A22 67 CD2
12 A8 26 A3 40 D14 54 A23 68 GND
13 A13 27 A2 41 D15 55 A24 - -
14 A14 28 A1 42 CE2 56 A25 - -

There are three other card interface pin assignments that are used that differ from the PC Card Mode shown above;
CEA-679 part B [shown below]
S-Mode, S-Card [Single Stream Mode]
M-Mode, M-Card [Multi Stream Mode]. An M-Card will operate in Multi Stream Mode or Single Stream Mode.

CEA-679 part B, Pin Out

CEA-679C is a pinout variant of CableCARD [Consumer Electronic Association].
This pin out version does not seem to be widely used.

The table provides the pinout for the 16-bit PC Card, CEA-679C version.

PCMCIA 68-pin Connector Pin Out And Signal names
Pin # Signal name Pin # Signal name Pin # Signal name Pin # Signal name Pin # Signal name
1 Ground 15 WE 29 A0 43 VS1/RFSH 57 MCLKO
2 D3 16 IREQ# 30 D0 44 IORD# 58 Reset
3 D4 17 Vcc 31 D1 45 IOWR# 59 Wait
4 D5 18 Vpp1 32 D2 46 MISTRT 60 INPACK#
5 D6 19 MIVAL 33 IOIS16# 47 MDI0 61 Reg
6 D7 20 MCLKI 34 GND 48 MDI1 62 MOVAL
7 CE1 21 A12 35 GND 49 MDI3 63 MOSTRT
8 A10 22 A7 36 CD1 50 MDI3 64 MDO0
9 OE 23 A6 37 MDO3 51 Vcc 65 MDO1
10 A11 24 A5 38 MDO4 52 Vpp2 66 MDO2
11 A9 25 A4 39 MDO5 53 MDI4 67 CD2
12 A8 26 A3 40 MDO6 54 MDI5 68 GND
13 A13 27 A2 41 MDO7 55 MDI6 -- ---
14 A14 28 A1 42 CE2 56 MDI7 -- ---

{CableCard PCMCIA PC Card Index}

PC motherboard

Distributor rolodex Electronic Components Electronic Equipment EDA CDROM Software Engineering Standards, BOB card Cabled Computer Bus Electronic Engineering Design Table Conversion DB9-to-DB25.
DistributorsComponents Equipment Software Standards Buses Design Reference

Modified 6/13/15
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