It's intriguing to see how the development of a highly integrated chip impacts the development of a board-level product---especially when both products are from the same vendor!
Look at IC maker LSI Logic Corp.'s (Milpitas, Calif.) latest announcement. It's enhancing its existing realtime MPEG-2 high-definition (HD) HDTVxpress Compressor PCI board with new features that the company claims will make it easier and more cost-effective to develop HD content in a PC environment.
Significantly, the board is based on one of LSI Logic's latest ICs, namely its DoMiNo---a very powerful DSP-based and RISC-equipped system-on-a-chip. In a big way, this story is as much about this hunk of silicon as it is about the newly enhanced PCI bus drop-in. More on this IC in a moment.
New features of LSI's HDTVxpress board include support for capture and encode of the 1080p/24fps film format, with realtime compression for archiving and distribution.
The HDTVxpress plug-in also includes a multi-pass variable bit-rate process. The company says that addresses higher quality video, and frame-accurate start/stop control. Those attributes are also needed for production authoring and video server applications.
The HDTVxpress Compressor PCI encoder board includes an HD-SDI input (meeting SMPTE 292M specs) and a DVB-ASI (Transport) output. Leveraging LSI Logic's DoMiNo silicon architecture, the HDTVxpress Compressor encoder board supports real-time MPEG-2 encoding, and provides video compression for 1920 x 1080-pixels/59.94i, 1440 x 1080-pixels/59.94i, 1280 x 1080-pixels/59.94i, and 1280 x 720-pixels/59.94p resolutions. The DoMiNo architecture is also capable of 4:2:2 LGOP encoding, as well as audio compression.
Digging Into The Silicon
Let's look at the DoMiNo system-on-a-chip architecture a bit more closely, and see what it can do on the new PCI board, as well as in other PC and embedded applications. In these applications, the chip is supported by LSI Logic's C-Ware high-level programming environment.
On the hardware side, the DoMiNo offers true multi-stream and multi-format A/V codec capabilities. That supports things such as dual-channel HD decoding with picture-in-picture, quad-channel live previewing for channel selections on HDTV sets, and digital and analog time-shifting.
The IC also supports seamless channel and video clip switching without frame freezes, has audio muting, and handles concurrent execution of multiple tasks. The latter will let you design a product that can record a TV program while a user is watching a DVD movie, for example.
The DoMiNo integrates dual 150-MIPS RISC processors, an audio DSP, a video and motion estimation processor, and a DRAM controller. It also packs on-chip cache and scratchpad memory, an IEEE-1394 FireWire link, and transport-stream de-multiplexers. An integrated DRAM controller supports up to 64 Mbytes of single- or double-data-rate (DDR) SDRAM.
Click for larger block diagram
The chip's dual RISC core provides the necessary processing horsepower to implement additional graphics and host functions. Using the popular VxWorks realtime operating system from WindRiver Systems, for example, the IC provides realtime operating system services, while C-Ware provides signal processing-specific services and high-level APIs (application programming interfaces).
The chip's integrated I/O processor also touts dual UARTs, infrared receive and transmit functions, and an inter-device connection (IDC) interface. It also touts an SPI bus for communicating with flash devices such as SmartMedia cards. A smartcard interface also supports up to two smart cards. The DoMiNo chip can also support multiple encryption standards, including CPPM, CPRM, CSS, Multi-2, DES, and 5C.
The IC's system bus can also be configured either as a 32-bit 66-MHz PCI-2.2-compliant bus, or as a 16-bit or 32-bit generic host bus.
It can either operate in Slave Mode with an external host processor, or in a limited Master Mode when using the on-chip dual-RISC core as the host. This makes the DoMiNo suitable for use in embedded as well as in PC-based applications such as the new HDTVxpress Compressor PCI board.
The LSI Logic DoMiNo's signal processing capabilities also support multi-stream, multi-format A/V encoding and decoding, and so-called transcoding and transrating between different A/V formats and bit rates. An integrated motion estimation processor handles noise reduction and up-conversion to high-resolution display formats.
A video input interface supports up to two CCIR656 8-bit YUV video inputs, or a single 16-bit YUV video input. The video output supports CCIR656 16-bit YUV or 24-bit RGB video out.
An audio input interface supports dual-stereo inputs, while an audio-output interface supports up to eight channels of surround-sound audio.
Back to the DoMiNo-dominated HDTVxpress Compressor PCI board, and how you can develop around it. LSI Logic is providing a software development kit (SDK) to ease software/hardware integration.
The SDK includes Windows 2000/Windows XP drivers, a sample Windows GUI application with realtime host preview mode, example source code, tutorials, and documentation.
So, there you have it. HDTV content is increasingly being used for kiosk advertising, in multi-channel video servers, for high-resolution surveillance, digital cinema services via satellite/network, telemedicine, and live sports and entertainment events-distribution over satellite, so this PCI plug-in is a timely product.
With its DoMiNo chip quietly endowing it with virtually every video and audio feature you can imagine, the board looks like it might be just the ticket for PC-based video editing.
For further information on LSI's chip or the newly enhanced HDTV board, contact LSI Logic Corp., 1621 Barber Lane, Milpitas, Calif. 95035. Phone: (866) 574-5741 or (408) 954-3108.