SAN JOSE, Calif. A startup with links to Altera Corp. introduced a lossless compression methodology at the Embedded Systems Conference here for embedding in medical, storage, networking and military/aerospace designs.
Samplify Systems Inc. (Santa Clara, Calif.) has designed its SignalZIP algorithms for embedding in FPGAs, though the software also could be used in ASICs.
Samplify completed a series A funding round of $6.5 million, led by Charles River Ventures and Formative Ventures. The funds will be used to implement SignalZIP in a range of demonstration applications while expanding sales and marketing efforts.
Bryan Hoyer, vice president of business development, who was a part of a software team at Boulder Creek Engineer Inc., which was acquired by Altera in 1999, said the company deliberately kept out of overcrowded compression markets such MPEG for audio or video along with voice codec applications. Instead, Samplify is looking for applications in which compression and decompression exist adjacent to D/A and A/D converters, for real-time acquisition applications. The applications are particularly important in bus-based environments ranging from VME to PCI Express.
SignalZIP is "dialable" in ratios from 2:1 to 8:1, using lossless, fixed-rate or fixed-quality options. That makes it well suited for scientific applications ranging from astronomy to drug research, where equipment developers may not have a quantifiable level of compression but know the anticipated sample rate required.
Hoyer predicted that applications for the algorithms will be areas of distributed data acquisition such as the SETI (search for extra-terrestrial intelligence) astronomy project and fast, constrained real-time acquisition markets such as unmanned aerial vehicles carrying electronic intelligence equipment.
Wireless basestations eventually could prove a critical market, he added, but mil/aero applications "could emerge more quickly for us, particularly as the contractors turn to COTS (commercial off-the-shelf) architectures."
The algorithm uses oversampling, signal redundancy and dynamic range to compress with greater accuracy in lossless mode. In fixed-rate mode, a compression rate is specified, and the core outputs a stream smaller than the target rate. In fixed-quality mode, a signal-to-noise ratio is specified in dB, and the signal is compressed as much as possible while maintaining the specified SNR.
An analytical tool called Samplify for Windows can evaluate the compressibility of data in text or binary format. Results can be viewed in time or frequency domains.
The annual single-user, single-company license price for an FPGA core is $25,000, plus royalties. Samplify for Windows can be purchased as a standalone program for $995, and can also be used as part of a 30-day free evaluation offer.