Ultra-High Definition Video Encoding Now Feasible in Low-Cost FPGAs or Low-End ASICs

Woodcliff Lake, NJ — April 28, 2015
This product is no longer available to license from CAST. Please contact CAST Sales for more info.

A new hardware encoder has the performance and efficiency needed to make 4K, 8K, or very high frame rate HD video output viable for low-volume or cost-sensitive products.

This new Ultra-High Throughput (UHT™) JPEG Encoder IP Core available from semiconductor intellectual property provider CAST, Inc., is sourced from semiconductor IP company Alma Technologies. The core uses a high-performance, scalable, parallel-processing architecture to efficiently handle the significant pixel processing demands of advanced video encoding. This makes it one of the few available solutions for processing ultra-high definition (UHD) video—or very high frame rate standard or high definition video—in low-cost FPGAs or lower-end ASIC silicon.

For example, from common 422 format video input, the new encoder can:

  • Process more than 1 Gpixels/sec in the lowest speed graded devices in the Altera® Cyclone® V or Xilinx® Artix®-7 FPGA families, and
  • Process over 10 Gpixels/sec on a TSMC® 40nm LP process.

To encode 4K Ultra-HD video (2160p at 30 frames per second), the core needs as few as 30K Logic Elements in Altera Cyclone V devices, 40K Logic Cells in Xilinx Artix-7 devices, or 300K gates in a TSMC 40nm LP ASIC. 

“The silicon economics of UHD encoding via this new core make it feasible to deliver 4K or 8K video in classes of products for which HEVC H.265 high-def encoding is too complex and expensive,” said Nikos Zervas, chief executive officer of CAST. “The new encoder also satisfies embedded system designers’ requirements for many industrial, defense, and other applications, as it makes it more cost-effective than ever to encode standard- and high-definition video at the very high frame rates needed for these systems.”

About the UHT JPEG Encoder Core

The UHT-JPEG-E Ultra-High Throughout JPEG Encoder Core is a standalone hardware encoder that works independently of a system’s host CPU (after its initial programming) and complies with the 8-bit Baseline and 12-bit Extended Sequential JPEG standards (ITU T.81 and ISO/IEC 10918-1).

CAST UHUT JPEG-E Block diagram
The Ultra-High Throughput JPEG Encoder IP Core efficiently handles 4K and greater resolution video with a scalable, high-performance, parallel-processing architecture.

The encoder employs a scalable architecture of multiple parallel processing units to achieve a class-leading encoding rate of up to 32 samples per clock cycle. It splits an incoming still image or video frame into chunks and assigns each to a processing unit automatically, without intervention from or demand on the host system. Users can configure the maximum number of parallel processing units to be implemented—fine tuning this to best exploit the target technology—and all non-critical resources are automatically shared among the multiple processing units to reduce silicon area.

The core’s raster scan input accepts all popular formats, i.e., 4:4:4, 4:2:2, 4:2:0 and 4:0:0 chroma sampling, in 8, 10 or 12 bits per component sample depth. It produces a complete JPEG byte stream, which can be processed for playback by any standard-complaint decoder and is suitable as JPEG payload in Motion-JPEG streams.

These streaming interfaces for the pixel input and compressed stream output—plus a microprocessor-like interface to its registers and optional AMBA AHB or AXI bus wrappers—help make the Encoder easy to integrate in any System on Chip (SoC) design. For further flexibility and economy, the Encoder’s external memory interface is independent of memory type and can work with either on-chip SRAMs or off-chip DDR memories, while its tolerance of memory latency makes the Encoder suitable for shared-memory architectures.   

Users of the Encoder can readily balance its JPEG quality factor versus the bit rate of its output stream. An optional Constant Bit Rate (CBR) mode makes the Encoder suitable for a wide range of video streaming applications, as it allows real-time control over the compression ratio as well as the end-to-end latency, via regulation of the transmission buffer size. 

The Ultra-High Throughput (UHT™) JPEG Encoder IP Core is available now. A bit-accurate model plus extensive pre-sales support is available to help potential customers fully evaluate the Encoder before purchase. Call CAST at +1 201.391.8300 or email [email protected] for more information.

About Alma Technologies

Alma Technologies is a semiconductor IP company, offering high-quality IP cores since 2001. Its products stand out for their engineering, being complete, easy-to-use and reliable IP solutions. Alma Technologies IPs are backed by best-in-class technical support and they are proven in a long track record of over 200 licensees’ designs. Learn more at www.alma-technologies.com.

About CAST

CAST is a twenty-year-old developer, integrator, and aggregator of IP cores for ASICs and FPGAs. The company offers some of the best available choices for low-power, high-value IP, including 8051s and BA2x 32-bit Processors; video, image, and data compression; security, interfaces and other functions needed for complete system on chip designs. Visit www.cast-inc.com, or follow @castcores on Twitter. 

This product is no longer available to license from CAST. Please contact CAST Sales for more info.

UHT is a trademark of Alma Technologies. Other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.