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Tektronix tools target next-gen video compression

Posted: 09 Sep 2004 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:tektronix? analyzer? windows? mtm400? mpeg transport stream monitor?

Instrumentation giant Tektronix is introducing a new software-based analyzer that gives users the ability to investigate compressed video data that's been encoded using various video standards. The company is also announcing the addition of H.264/AVC and Windows Media 9 support for its MTM400 MPEG Transport Stream Monitor.

For its part, the new MTS4EA Video Elementary Stream (ES) Analyzer software is an upgradeable test approach targeting current and next-generation video compression technologies. The MTS4EA software provides elementary stream analysis support for MPEG-2, MPEG-4, H.264/AVC, H.261, H.263, H.263+ and 3GPP standards.

Why is this significant? Next-generation video compression standards such as H.264/AVC are becoming critical for future high-volume consumer products, such as DVB-H mobile phones, broadband DSL STBs, and high definition DVD. The so-called elementary stream used by these devices is the fundamental stream of compressed video.

Wide appeal

The MTS4EA analysis tool targets many types of users, including engineers making and evaluating semiconductors, consumer electronics and professional video equipment, as well as video network operators and mobile phone equipment manufacturers and operators. All of these disparate user communities may need to investigate and analyze compressed video data that's encoded using the above video standards.

"People need analysis software to let them compare and evaluate different compression algorithms and implementations," shared Todd Biddle, the company's VP of its video product line. "These tools can help them quickly launch new devices, products, or services, and rapidly realize a revenue stream. They also need tools that can be updated as standards evolve."

Biddle also noted that next-gen compression standards provide significant bandwidth advantages over conventional broadcast compression standards. They also offer the prospect of reduced cost and additional services with no compromise in video quality.

"To effectively capitalize on new standards, you need a way to verify standards compliance, analyze the performance of a video CODEC (compression/decompression algorithm), and compare in detail the interoperability of different video CODECs or different versions of a CODEC," said Biddle. "The new MTS4EA analyzer enables developers as well as manufacturers to competently and confidently design and test devices using next-generation compression standards."

Building on the old

Significantly, the new software builds on Tektronix's existing H.264/AVC and Windows Media 9 Transport Stream support, and is available standalone for use on a PC or as an option to run on Tek's existing AD953A and AD951A MPEG monitor/testers.

The MTS4EA analyzer also ensures flexibility through plug-ins for different CODEC standards. This lets users purchase just the CODEC standard they need for a particular need, or a selection of CODEC approaches. The system's modular architecture also supports upgrades and evolution as existing standards change and new standards emerge.

The price for the new software begins at just under $13,000.

Realtime monitoring

With the addition of H.264/AVC and Windows Media 9 support to Tektronix's MTM400 MPEG Transport Stream Monitor, broadcasters, cable, satellite, and broadband video operators who are using, or planning to use, next generation compressed video technology will have a realtime monitor. This support will be shipped standard with new MTM400s and is available free of charge to existing users of the MTM400.

"Users offering broadcast video services need to prepare today for the deployment of these next generation compression technologies," Biddle said. "By adding further standard support to the MTM400 realtime transport stream monitor, users can install monitoring, safe in the knowledge that they already support the new standards as they're deployed."

The existing MTM400 is a realtime MPEG transport stream monitor. Together with the company's MLM1000 Multi-Layer Monitoring Application, it lets users monitor transmission of MPEG transport streams. It does that using a single transport stream processor board packaged in a rackmount chassis to provide monitoring of a transport stream at data rates up to 155Mbps.

Diagnostic monitoring options provide in-depth analysis of an MPEG transport stream, including recording capability, and PSI/SI/PSIP/ARIB analysis. Optional QPSK and QAM interfaces let the MTM400 receive RF inputs and display key RF monitoring parameters including MER, BER, and constellation displays, before demodulating the signal to provide measurements on the health of the transport stream.

- Alex Mendelsohn


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