Software-configurable processor vendor Stretch today (Aug. 3) unveiled its third-generation processor, the S7 family, which processes four times the video channels compared with its earlier devices.
The three-member family is designed for IP network cameras, video servers, and video decode appliances and handles up to 16 channels of H.264 video streams in standard definition or 1080p60 high definition video.
Stretch's previous family, the S6 unveiled in 2007, handled 4 channels of 4CIF/D1 H.264 BP encoding at 30fps or 16 channels of CIF resolution at 30fps. Its inaugural product, the S5, targeted telecom, networking and security applications and offered four 10/100/1000 Ethernet ports, 64bits of DDR400 SDRAM with error correction code, and low serial IO, TDM and general purpose IOs.
S7 key features:
- Programmable accelerator supports multi-stream encoding of Baseline, Main, and High-Profile H.264 AVC or SVC
- Integrated ARM9 processor Supports Linux operating system for network connectivity and file system management
- On-Chip PCI Express (2.5GB/sec)
- Uses a high-speed serial AIM link to scale to multi-chip systems (4 pins/channel compared with the S6Æs 32 pins/channel).
- DDR2 and DDR3 interfaces
Implemented in a 65nm low-power process at Global Foundries, the S7 features advanced clocking structures to minimize quiescent current and has adjustable voltage rails and clock frequencies for application specific tuning.
The family (ranging from low power-small footprint, to high performance) three unspecified price points and scales its capabilities to a variety of applications.
The S7120 features:
- 720P30 and 1080P30 multi-stream h.264 high profile
- One 14-bit and one 10-bit data ports
- Clock: Up to 267MHz
- Package: 14mm2 BGA
- Power dissipation: <1W
The S7110 features:
- 1080P30 multi-stream h.264 high profile and 1080P60 H.264 high profile
- One 14-bit and two 10-bit data ports
- Serial AIM lanes: One
- Clock: Up to 333MHz
- Package: 17mm2 BGA
- Power dissipation: <175mW/channel
The S7100 features:
- 1080P60 multi-stream h.264 high profile and 5Mp 30fps multi-stream multi-stream h.264 high profile
- Four 10-bit data ports
- Serial AIM lanes: Up to four
- Clock: Up to 367MHz
- Package: 23mm2 BGA
- Power dissipation: <175mW/channel
The new capabilities mean that the cost per channel has been reduced by a quarter, according to Stretch.
Booming market, big demands
That comes amid an expanding market. Not only are 40-60 million video cameras sold each year, but video-surveillance systems are exploding and driving a demand for greater performance and lower cost, according to Bob Beachler, Stretch's vice president of marketing, operations and systems design.
Whereas a Tivo box may display one channel and encode two others to store on the hard disk, a casino has thousands of cameras feeding thousands of channels into disk storage. In addition, the Stretch architecture and Intelligent Decoder software provide broadcast-quality video at bit rates lower than other solutions, which helps end customers manage rising video-storage costs, Beachler said.
Stretch's differentiation comes in its architecture. At the heart of it is a software configurable processor based on the XTENSA RISC processor technology from Tensilica. It's a reprogrammable fabric similar to an FPGA, but it functions more like a floating point engine to accelerate compute instructions. Engineers have the capability to take C/C++ code and define new instructions directly in the fabric.
For video applications, this means the fabric can handle a variety of duties--noise reduction, deinterlacing, filtering, core encoding, etc.--relatively efficiently.
Pricing and availability:
- Availability: Sampling starts Aug. 3 with production volumes available at year's end
- Pricing: Beachler declined to offer specific pricing, saying that usually depends on applications and requirements. But he did say a high-volume consumer-focused customer could expect to pay $10 each for the 7120.