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Chip startup keeps MPEG-4 power budget to trickle

Posted: 16 May 2001 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:risc? dsp? mpeg4? video processor? pll?

Startup Luxxon Corp. is getting ready to take the wraps off a video processor for cellular phones that it claims can beat any RISC/DSP solution hands down in both power consumption and flexibility.

Though the company is not ready to disclose many of the critical performance and power parameters, president and chief executive officer Dave Singhal said the Lux2 can run 64Kbps, 15fps MPEG-4 video (QCIF resolution), while operating at a mere 12MHz. A typical software implementation would normally require a RISC processor running at least 200MHz, he said.

Luxxon is not providing hard data?at least not publicly?on how that translates into real power consumption. Singhal, however, hinted that the chip's active mode would be below or within 50mW to 100mW, which is the power specification cellphone makers suggested for video in 2.5G or 3G phones.

"If you have a 2.5- or 3G network, you do not want users having to carry around a brick with a battery," Singhal said. One unique feature of the Lux2 is its reconfigurable codec engine, which makes it possible to modify the video, audio, video frame rate or screen formats.

Luxxon is betting that the ability to change screen resolutions will give it a leg up on its competitors. "Typically people are putting fixed-function devices in handsets, so they have to select the codec, frame rate and format," Singhal said. "But cellphone manufacturers use a variety of screen formats, not just 160-by-120. They may want to use a different size panel."

The device supports bit rate control and variable compression depending on the bandwidth, CPU and power constraints for MPEG-4, MPEG-1, JPEG and H.26x videoconferencing formats. It can play MPEG-4 and H.263 video, for example, at five rates and two screen formats, ranging from 14.44Kbps at 5fps (QCIF) to 384Kbps at 30fps (CIF).

Other features include about 1MB of embedded dram plus memory controller, PLLs, a power-management unit and a graphics engine. It is designed to link with an LCD panel, baseband processor, external audio codec, flash-storage multimedia cards and a CMOS image sensor, according to the company.

'Adaptive, programmable'

Luxxon also provides software for video servers that transcodes different video formats, such as MPEG-1, into MPEG-4 video that can then be transmitted to wireless-handset users. That software can be used with a number of RISC processing engines built into a mobile handset and can be optimized to run with the Lux2 device. But Luxxon intends to compete with other RISC devices on the inherent strengths of its chip, with or without the video-streaming software. "The DSP-and-ARM camp is saying 'Let us take your cellphone and turn it into a PC,' " Singhal said. "What we have is a chip that is fully featured, adaptive and programmable."

Luxxon is now demonstrating an FPGA-based prototype of Lux2. The company said it should be able to deliver the first samples to early customers in Q2 and plans to start mass production in Q4.

? Anthony Cataldo

EE Times

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