I just heard from the folks at SingMai Electronics – designers and manufacturers of products for video, imaging, and broadcast applications – that work has started on a new range of IP cores aimed particularly at video cameras.
All of SingMai's cores are supplied as RTL with an unlimited time/use license. (I understand that they used to offer other licensing methods, but they find this current scheme much simpler to support; also their customers very much appreciate this simplicity.) The folks from SingMai tell me that they price their cores to be affordable – the cores are priced between $500 (for the PT13) and $15,000 (for the PT5).
These cores can be used for both ASIC and FPGA designs. In fact, SingMai estimates that their cores are used 50:50 between these implementation technologies. They say that designs can be ported to pretty much any FPGA platform, although (to the best of SingMai's knowledge) their customers are currently using only Altera or Xilinx FPGAs. All of SingMai's designs are generic and do not use any specific library functions from the FPGA vendor (e.g. multipliers/DSP elements or memory).
SingMai offers six months design-in support for all of their cores, and they can also help with regard to customizing the design to a particular target platform. They also offer small customizations to the IP core to best fit the customer’s architecture; sometimes for free and sometimes for a small charge depending on the work involved.
New cores to be introduced in the months ahead include auto focus and auto iris controllers, a Bayer de-mosaicing core, a flat field corrector/dynamic range compressor and Robert’s operator (edge detector). These cores are supplemented by SingMai's existing motion adaptive noise reducer, video encoders, and HD-CVI cable interface.
This month sees the first of their new cores – the PT10 Histogram Equalization IP Core – that is suitable for both SD and HD video sources.
Histogram equalization is a useful technique for expanding the contrast range of low-contrast images, thereby allowing details to be perceived that were previously invisible. This is particularly helpful in extreme lighting conditions such as can be found in security imaging where lighting cannot be controlled or in scientific and industrial imaging.
The PT10 calculates the histogram of the image intensities in real time and applies the correction to the subsequent video frame, calculating the correction during the vertical blanking interval.
The image below shows the histogram equalization in operation. The view through a tunnel, which has a bright central exit, forces the camera to reduce the contrast of the walls as seen on the left-hand side of the image. The PT10 adjusts the contrast range of the image in real time so the details of the walls are again visible as seen on the right-hand side of the image. One example where this is particularly useful is in pipe inspections or in other remote inspection applications.
Another camera image, presented below, shows an interior scene. In this case a brightly lit window reduces the contrast of the interior. Once again, the left-hand side of the image shows the original version, while the right-hand side of the image shows the result after processing with the PT10 IP core.Click Here
for more details on the PT10 IP core. Click Here
to see SingMai's complete range of IP cores. For further details on any of these cores, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
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