Electronic Design

It Looks Like HD Video Is Moving Into Smaller Quarters

High definition is all the rage on big-screen TVs. But now, smaller devices will be empowered with this crisp video content. Recent announcements should give designers a lift for creating small devices with big ideas for HD playback and recording.

HD FOR $99
At the recent Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona, Nvidia introduced a platform based on its Tegra 600 series computer-on-a-chip. Reportedly, the platform will enable designers to build a $99, always-on, always-connected HD mobile internet device (MID) that can go days between battery charges. This is the price that carriers are expected to charge, since “always on” implies 3G connectivity.

The hardware specs for a Tegra-based MID are impressive (see the figure). These figures include 720p and 1080p video playback; low power consumption, described by the company as days of use between charges; full Wi-Fi and 3G connectivity via an STMicroeclectronics U335 modem; and optimized hardware support for Web 2.0 applications for a true desktop-class Internet experience.

But the platform doesn’t stop there. There’s a complete software solution, too, including Microsoft Windows Embedded CE, application viewers, a full Internet browser, a user interface (UI) framework, a board support package (BSP), a software development kit (SDK), a Web mail client, and more.

The Tegra 650 includes on chip an ARM11 MPCore running at 800 MHz, an HD AVP (highdefinition audio video processor) employing Nvidia PureVideo technology, and an ultra-low-power (ULP) GeForce GPU, among other components. For more information, visit www.nvidia.com.

Also announced at MWC, the OMAP 4 mobile applications platform from Texas Instruments promises stunning, multimedia-rich user experiences such as 1080p video record and playback, 20-Mpixel imaging, and approximately a week of audio play time.

TI says that the new platform provides significant improvements in performance and play time compared to today’s most popular smart phones, for example, 10 times faster Web page loading times, more than seven times higher computing performance, six times higher video resolution, 10 times better graphics performance, and six times longer audio play time.

The OMAP 4 processor balances processing across four main engines: a programmable multimedia engine based on TI’s C64x DSP and power-efficient, multiformat hardware accelerators; general-purpose processing based on the dual-core ARM Cortex A9 MPCore supporting symmetric multiprocessing (SMP) and capable of speeds of more than 1 GHz per core; a high-performance programmable graphics engine; and an image signal processor (ISP) for high-quality video and imaging performance.

The OMAP 4 platform also includes a comprehensive software suite, power-management technology, and other supporting components. For more, visit www.ti.com/omap4_product_info.

Last December, VIA Technologies announced a three-chip platform that brings HD performance to ultra-compact systems. Code-named VIA Trinity, the platform meets the performance requirements for displaying HD yet still operates within a comparably low-power envelope.

VIA Trinity couples a power-efficient VIA processor like the VIA Nano processor with one of VIA’s highly integrated media system processors. It adds the power of an onboard S3 Graphics PCI Express discrete GPU to bring the latest in x86 technologies to even smaller spaces.

VIA’s focus on power efficiency at the silicon level has enabled the integration of all chipset core logic, memory control, integrated graphics processor (IGP), peripheral and networking connectivity, and multimedia functionality into a single-chip solution, such as the VIA VX800 media system processor.

Because of this, a discrete graphics accelerator can be added to the mix without blowing the space or power budget. And OEMs can offer systems with superior computing, 3D graphics, and HD video performance. For more information, visit www.via.com.tw/en/initiatives/spearhead/trinity/.

In “MEMS Sound Off ” in our February 26 issue, we incorrectly said “the International Trade Commission (ITC) recently ruled that MEMSTech was infringing on Knowles Acoustics’ packaging patents.” Actually, the ITC has not yet made a final determination as to whether MEMSTech has infringed on Knowles Acoustics’ packaging patents.

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