The HDHomerun 3 is a TV streamer from 2011. Connect it to a TV signal and it pipes MPEGs over an ethernet connection. Couple together with a media PC and you have a ‘roll your own’ DVR. I was using it for ~5 years with a PC running Linux & MythTV, unfortunately something died in it and I could not find anything to repair so it got the full teardown treatment.
I chose the vintage teardown title for this blog because modern chips are generally too dense to see anything interesting. Unfortunately 2011 is certainly not vintage, and as you will see the chipsets used here are quite advanced.
The assembly is about as simple as you can get, unscrew a few screws andthe board slides out.
The layout of the board is very understandable and straightforward
The TV signal comes in through the RF F-connector and is split into two channels with a duplexor (The tiny 8 pin device labelled 20U). The signal then goes into the MXL201 TV Tuner which selects the channel and spits out an IF signal into a Trident DRX3933J an 8VSB/QAM Digital Demodulator. The demodulated signals from both channels then go to the Ubicom IP3017 which is a CPU for streaming media over LAN, it takes the signal and converts it to MPEG which is then sent into the Realtek 8201 an 10/100Mbps Ethernet PHYceiver for transporting the MPEG over the Ethernet. There is SST 4Mb Flash attached to the IP3017. There are 3 separate timing crystals (10Mhz, 25MHz and 27Mhz) and on the bottom of the board a Laird common mode choke on the DC voltage input, together with a 5.6V protection zener diode (MCC339B).
MXL201 TV Tuner
Maxlinear chip codename Sagara V6
Aesthetically the die image is quite nice, but because of the density you really cannot see anything beyond the top two metal layers.
The Trident QAM demodulator is designed by Micronas and DRXJ is a die mark (But no 3933).
Again really hard to see anything below the top two layers. A characteristic of modern copper metal process is the ‘measles appearance’ of little squares placed everywhere the tracks are not. They are put there so that the CMP polishing that removes the excess copper maintains a mirror flat surface and does not dish between metals.
On this chip you can see an analog section at the bottom that is some kind of filter arrangement
Zooming in with my largest objective you can see the dark blocks are actually inter-digitated finger capacitors (You can also get a sense of how dense the 130nm process die is with a glimpse of a few of the layers below the capacitor metal layer (which is the layer below top metal).
Again made on a modern process. Here is a small section with my highest objective where you can make out detail on at least 6 layers, but cannot see the transistor levels.It’s a bit like looking through a window on a foggy day.
Of the three die photos the MXL201 and the RTL8201 are quite nice to look at, but I think I need to find some older material to dig into.