Until 2010, Roku was well served by NXP's lineup of IPTV STB chips. What prompted the move to Broadcom for the 2011 lineup? As evident from the end product, it is clear that Roku wanted an SoC capable of the following:

  1. Compliant H.264 decoder (Multi-format would be a plus)
  2. Ethernet / USB / SDIO support
  3. GPU for satisfactory casual gaming (such as Angry Birds)
  4. Low power consumption (to enable small form factor and cheap thermal solution)
  5. Low cost (to hit price points between $60 and $100 in retail)

Even before the Roku 2 units reached the public, FCC filings revealed that the Broadcom 2835 SoC was the app processor inside the streamer. Mike at MyCableAlternatives has an excellent teardown and description here. In the same article, there is also an educated guess about the specifications of the BCM 2835:

  1. 700 MHz ARM11
  2. OpenGL ES 2.0 compliant GPU
  3. 1080p30 H.264 High Profile Decode

The fact that the Ethernet and USB ports are both enabled by the SMSC LAN9152 (USB/Ethernet to USB bridge chip) indicate that the BCM 2835 doesn't have an Ethernet port. Unfortunately, not much else is known about the BCM 2835 because it is going to remain an unannounced part. Folks interested in keeping track of information about the BCM 2835 would do well to follow the Raspberry Pi project based on the same SoC. All in all, the main SoC is no great shakes, but it looks to be good enough for the Roku 2's limited media streaming requirements.

Like most big silicon companies, Broadcom makes their offerings attractive to companies by providing a package deal for the miscellaneous components in the final product. Let us take a look at the other components which Broadcom managed to snag in the Roku 2 XS:

  1. BCM 59002 Power Management IC
  2. BCM 20702 Bluetooth Receiver in the main unit
  3. BCM 20730 Bluetooth Transmitter in the gestural remote control
  4. BCM 4336 802.11n single chip solution

How good is the Broadcom solution? Does it get the job done effectively? We will cover these aspects in the rest of the review.

Unboxing and Setup Impressions Netflix Streaming
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  • isorashi - Tuesday, October 04, 2011 - link

    I only use it for Netflix in the bedroom, and for that it serves its purpose pretty well. I did get the XS model though, and was really disappointed that they yanked support for MKV containers. When I ordered it, I actually checked that it supported matroska, but when it arrived days later I discovered that the information I had read was out-of-date. They actually had supported formats listed in two different locations on their site, and I just happened to look at the old one. :-/

    I tend to rip dvds to a format that my ps3 supports, and the roku plays those back perfectly fine. However, I was planning on watching fan-subbed anime using the roku, but the lack of MKV support blew that plan out of the water.
    Reply
  • Aditya369 - Tuesday, October 04, 2011 - link

    Any idea, when youtube is coming back to roku2. Reply
  • richardevans - Tuesday, January 03, 2012 - link

    I have two Roku SMP's. All you have to do is scroll down the page to where it states something like skip this step and away you go. It's small (intentionally) but it is there. Or you can call customer service and they will set up an account for you without a credit card. I've never had a problem setting up my boxes and my new Roku 2 XS is my third Roku. It's a great player that in simple terms 'just works.' I tried out the new WDTV and the latest Sony just recently and they both failed that test. The WDTV had too many issues to list and the Sony wouldn't remember my network from day to day. The Roku has an open SDK so many developers are working on it. Bugs get fixed in short order nad new channels are added. Don't let the CC issue deter you from a great streaming media player. Reply

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