Paris - LSI Logic Corp. and Victor Co. of Japan (JVC) have jointly developed a PCI board capable of high-definition encoding, making it possible for the first time to author HD content in a PC workstation environment. Until now, most video professionals have used expensive, rack-mounted encoding systems to develop high-definition content.
Called HDTVxpress Compressor, the PCI board integrates up to four of LSI Logic's Domino network media processors, depending on the application. "By using our Domino architecture, which is designed to spend more processing cycles in analysis, compression and lookahead functionality, we developed the HDTVxpress Compressor as a real, single PCI board, requiring no special fan or heat sink," said Bob Saffari, senior director of marketing and applications engineering for advanced video products at LSI Logic.
What used to be a $100,000 rack-mount HDTV encoder system using six to 10 of LSI Logic's previous-generation encoder chips has now been reduced to a single PCI board at less than $60,000, said Saffari. New markets that LSI Logic and JVC hope to open with the HDTVxpress Compressor include multichannel video servers, high-definition DVD authoring, high-resolution surveillance and digital satellite news gathering.
HDTV authoring systems based on a PC do exist, but current solutions built around uncompressed HD I/O boards are designed to process data in the uncompressed domain. Running uncompressed HD signals at a 1.5-Gbit/second data rate inside a PC puts a real strain on both storage space and bandwidth, said Saffari. As a result, applications have been limited to ad insertion (very short clips) or high-end postproduction.
Doing HD encoding in software on a PC is not an option, either. "It's not feasible at the moment," said Saffari. A PC equipped with a 3-GHz Pentium processor could handle real-time standard-definition encoding in software, for applications such as continuous recording. But encoding HD video demands six times the resolution, Saffari said, and today's level of processing power would not be enough.
Compressing the HD image on a PCI board can significantly lower the storage and bandwidth demands on a PC. And perhaps more important, it seamlessly integrates the HD content-development process with the rest of the PC/workstation-based HD authoring and editing applications broadly used in studios and postproduction houses.
Saffari said that the Domino network media processor has been particularly effective in the new HDTVxpress Compressor design. Each of the three to four Domino chips used in the PCI board is capable of taking in the entire HD image, and only works on the area it's assigned to process. In contrast, on the HD encoder system built around LSI Logic's previous-generation encoder chips, slicing and partitioning the entire image among six to 10 chips for capturing and then processing was a huge and complicated task, he said.
The PCI board includes an HD serial digital interface input and a DVB-ASI (asynchronous serial interface) output that's used as a native baseband transmission facility for MPEG-2 transport streams. It supports real-time MPEG-2 encoding and offers high-quality video compression for 1,920 x 1,080 pixels/59.94i (interlaced); 1,440 x 1,080 pixels/59.94i; 1,280 x 1,080 pixels/59.94i; and 1,280 x 720 pixels/59.95p (progressive) resolutions.