Wireless Systems Design

Mobile Multimedia Gathers Speed

With a single mobile device, today's consumers can create their own multimedia worlds. They can enjoy streaming video and audio, digital photography, and 3D gaming almost anywhere they go. In fact, mobile devices are now the sole targets of many such multimedia applications. In order to meet demand for these flashy, consumer oriented applications, a number of vendors have introduced a variety of needed technology and design innovations. For two examples, check out ARM's (www.arm.com) NEON technology and CEVA's (www.ceva-dsp.com) Mobile-Media Solution.

The NEON technology from ARM is a media and signal-processing solution (FIG. 1). It will be implemented in future families of ARM processors. NEON targets the mobile and consumer products that need the flexibility to implement multiple combinations of video encode/decode, 3D graphics, speech processing, audio decoding, image processing, and baseband functionality.

The NEON technology is a 64-/128-b, single-instruction multiple-data (SIMD) instruction set. It claims that it can execute an MP3 audio decoder in less than 10 CPU MHz. In addition, it promises to run the GSM adaptive-multi-rate (AMR) speech codec using only 13 CPU MHz. NEON features a comprehensive instruction set, separate register files, and independent execution hardware. The technology's instruction set has been designed in conjunction with vectorizing C-compiler technology. It will be released with C-compiler support for the ARM developer community.

In contrast, the Mobile-Media solution from CEVA takes a platform-based approach (FIG. 2). Mobile-Media is a software-programmable audio, video, and image platform. The solution integrates CEVA's digital signal processors (CEVA-Teak or CEVA-X), the associated DSP system platforms, and a media software framework. It also houses a suite of video, audio, and imaging libraries.

Mobile-Media is powered by CEVA's MediaMagic technology. MediaMagic includes algorithmic accelerators. These accelerators use pattern-recognition techniques. It also features more than 30 dedicated multimedia DSP instructions and a high-performance 3D DMA co-processor that's designed for multimedia parallel processing.

The MediaMagic media-acceleration technology claims to achieve performance levels in software that were previously available only in a hardwired implementation. For example, the CEVA Mobile-Media solution enables H.264 decoding at VGA resolution with 30 frames per second. It requires just 61 MHz and 44 mW of power that include audio processing. Mobile-Media is accompanied by a Software Development Kit (SDK), which allows customers to extend the package with features like 2.5G/3G modems, Wi-Fi, GPS, and Bluetooth.

Both of these innovations beef up performance while making reprogrammability a reality. As a result, designers will be able to deliver the desired performance while meeting the power and small-form-factor demands of mobile devices. Thanks to the reprogammability, manufacturers will be able to quickly respond to consumer requirements. Consumers can even look forward to the day when they can download the newest multimedia applications onto almost any mobile device.

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