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Video format converter enhances viewing experience

Posted: 10 Jan 2007 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Blu-ray? flat panel display? video format converters? digital video format converters? Blu-ray technology?

"First, do no harm." These famous words uttered by Greek physician Hippocrates very well express the intent of Marvell Semiconductor's new video processing technologyto show content in its purest form without any distractions.

Keen on addressing the perennial problem of low-quality, low-resolution video images on HD flat panel displays, Marvell is unveiling its 88DE2700 series of video format converters at the ongoing Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. First to be launched is the 88DE2710 digital video format converter, which is targeted for Blu-ray Disc (BD) and HD-DVD players and recorders, IP and HD STBs, PMP DTV docks, flat-panel HDTVs, and media clients. It is designed to give consumers "a consistently high-quality viewing experience across a variety of content from different sources on flat-panel displays in their living rooms."

Source, content explosion
The growing popularity of HD flat panel displays worldwide has set new expectation levels for viewing video at home. Flat-panel TVs are outselling CRT TVs in the United States and Europe. It is even predicted that by 2009, sales of flat panel displays would have overtaken that of CRT TVs.

"The net result of this is that consumers all over the world are enjoying a new generation of large high-resolution, much brighter and higher-contrast displays in their living rooms. Viewing expectation levels have thus been reset," said Gaurav Shah, senior product marketing manager at Marvell's Digital Television Business Unit.

The advent of HD-DVD and BD players in 2006 has afforded consumers high-quality video content tailored for high-resolution flat panel displays. They now have various video sources at home and locations from which to get content when they want to. As displays get bigger, brighter and higher-resolution, the promise of a much more immersive experience looms large. However, when digital content is viewed on bigger and brighter displays, the noise and artifacts inherent in it are accentuated. And when consumers view content from different sources on their flat panel displays, the image they get usually suffer from low resolution, compression artifacts, poor mastering, among others.

"While flat-panels have evolved a lot, their focus has been primarily on cost reduction through integration. OEMs have done a good job of future-proofing flat-panel displays to enable standard video I/Os. But the focus has to be on content-proofing," Shah pointed out. According to him, this will allow consumers to connect any of their sources at home and any of the content they have to their flat panel displays, and consequently enjoy an immersive viewing experience.

The 88DE2710's efficient architecture enables fast time-to-market.

Raising the bar
Powered by Marvell's Quiet Video Processing technology, the 88DE2710 adaptive digital video format converter addresses the image quality issue.

"Our focus when we designed this chip was to enable affordable luxury, specifically performance and quality levels that used to be reserved just for high-end platforms and solutions. We want to bring those same levels to mainstream platforms," Shah revealed.

The 88DE2710 device's versatility allows it to take low-resolution content, drive it to a flat panel display and create high-quality images. It supports all possible digital video inputs, formats and resolutions (from 240-line PMP content to 1080p Blue-ray), and outputs all possible digital video formats, resolutions and frame rates. It is said to be the only solution in the market that has support for per-pixel motion adaptive 3D deinterlacing, video noise reduction, and block and mosquito noise reduction for both HD and SD content.

"Even for low-resolution content, this video format converter does a fantastic job. It takes such content, drives it on your flat panel display and creates a high-quality image," Shah added.

The converter also offers locally Adaptive Contrast Enhancement (ACE) that brings out shadow details without crushing mid-tones or highlights. "We apply ACE locally and do it on a block-by-block basis, stretching out and lightening the darker regions without impacting the lighter regions, so that the image has much more detail and clarity," explained Shah.

Another key feature is Wide Intelligent Color Remapping (W-ICR), which extends the color gamut without clipping, hue shifts or flesh tone errors. "With W-ICR, we saturate only the specific hues. We don't color-bleed into adjacent hues. It makes your blue bluer or your green greener without impacting other colors in the scene," he said.

"No harm done" is in fact Marvell's promise as its newest offering analyzes content on a frame-per-frame basis and applies enhancements without introducing any distractions or artifacts.

Additionally, the 88DE2710's efficient architecture enables fast time-to-market. CE OEMs can simply take the converter and add it as a backend video processing enhancement solution to their A/V sources or flat-panel displays.

The 88DE2700 series has been sampling since last year. CE products equipped with the 88D2710 will be available by mid-year.

- Regina Gepte
Electronic Engineering Times-Asia

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