SAN FRANCISCO -- Video post-processing became, years ago, a must-have feature to sharpen video quality in large-screen HDTVs. In 2014, the new frontier for this feature is the mobile device.
Pixelworks last week showed off side-by-side video quality comparisons of mobile devices -- with and without display processing -- at the company's suite in the Las Vegas Hotel during the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES). The company promised to launch its video processing solution in the first half of this year.
In a separate suite across town, MediaTek demonstrated its own “picture quality (PQ) engine,” embedded in a large-screen flat-panel TV. MediaTek's home business unit developed the company’s PQ engine for “clear motion.” A representative at MediaTek’s suite said, “We picked up all the knowhow on how to improve video images when we’ve worked with our TV SoC customers -- such as Sony, Panasonic and Sharp.”
That PQ engine is migrating into MediaTek’s latest eight-core mobile apps processor called “True Octa,” according to Finbarr Moynihan, general manager, international sales and marketing at MediaTek. The key to improving video quality on mobile devices is to figure out a way to display content -- movies at 24Hz or sports at 30Hz -- on a 60Hz high-resolution mobile display -- “without repeating frames,” Moynihan said. “We are running video display processing in our octa-cores’ pipeline, by interpolating frames.” MediaTek offers temporal interpolation based on Motion Estimation and Motion Compensation (MEMC) technologies.
While MediaTek eschewed side-by-side video comparisons on mobile devices at CES, Moynihan noted that its mobile apps processor is designed to improve video quality in mobile devices.
If the size of the crowd lined up for Pixelwork’s demo was any indication, the importance of video quality (and the need for display processing in mobile devices using a high resolution such as Retina display) might be finally sinking in among the minds of the mobile industry.
Bruce Walicek, president and CEO, told EE Times, during the interview at CES, the company’s new mobile display processing solution, designed to eliminate judder and motion blur, will be rolled out in the first half of this year. While the company declined to offer details of the product architecture, Pixelworks apparently plans to implement video display processing functions just before signals go out to its display serial interface (DSI). DSI is a serial bus between the host (source of the image data) and the device (destination of the image data).
Asked if Pixelwork’s solution requires mobile system OEMs to change apps processors or re-architecting the entire system, Walicek said, “No. We are fully aware of the mobile eco-system.”
Pixelworks’ senior vice president Richard Miller promised that the company’s display processing solution will “reduce the system-level power and improves memory bandwidth” in a mobile device.
The company’s side-by-side demo at its suite showed visible differences. Mobile devices with display processing corrected annoying jerky effect when the object or person moved side to side across the screen, while making the image smoother.
The screenshot above is split into two portions: the left side shows ideal motion handling, while the right side simulates the motion blur.
What about ARM, Imagination?
Not everyone appears to be ready with mobile video post-processing solutions, however.
Asked about the need for video post-processing in mobile devices, Michael Muller, CTO of ARM, noted during an interview with EE Times at CES, such enhancements are not his company’s priority. He suggested that partners in ARM’s eco-system might dabble in this area, by taking advantage of ARM cores.