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IP core enables one-chip H.264/MPEG-4 codec

Posted: 07 Mar 2007 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:H.264? MPEG-4? codec? TMC? IP core?

Techno Mathematical Co. Ltd has developed the industry's first H.264/MPEG-4 intellectual-property core to offer a one-chip encoder/decoder LSI solution. The High Profile core features high-definition (1920-by-1080i) image compression and decompression.

Techno Mathematical (TMC) is a Tokyo-based venture company that specializes in developing audio/video compression/decompression algorithms. Its IP core enables compression and decompression of HD images in real-time.

Better picture quality
The H.264 video codec standard can efficiently compress image data that's nearly one-half to one-third more compact than MPEG-2 data while maintaining better picture quality. But the computation load is about 10x that of MPEG-2. This makes it difficult to develop a one-chip solution.

Sony Corp. and Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. Ltd proposed the video camcorder format, dubbed AVCHD, last May. That format is based on the H.264 High Profile. The two companies separately introduced an AVCHD high-definition video camcorder in Q4 last year, using their home-grown H.264 encoder chips. But those chips only compressed images to 1440-by-1080/60i, not the full HD compression rate of 1920-by-1080/60i.

Techno Mathematical used its proprietary Digital Media New Algorithm to develop the IP core.

DMNA combines mathematical methods such as factorization, lapel operations and hierarchical structure to reduce and simplify large computational processes. These include discrete wavelet transform, discrete cosine transform and motion estimation, which are indispensable for image and audio encoding.

Less power consumption
The algorithm enabled a reduction in the number of gates by half or one-third, and it slashed the logic unit's power consumption by about half compared with current H.264 HD encoders, said a Techno Mathematical spokesman. While other companies' corresponding LSIs run at about 200MHz, the clock frequency of the company's encoder/decoder is just 81MHz, according to the spokesman.

The part supports 1920-by-1080/60 frames interlaced, 1440-by-1080/60i, 1920-by-1080/30 progressive, 1280-by-720/60p and 720-by-480/60p.

Techno Mathematical has already licensed customized versions of the IP core to several customers. Products with an encoder chip based on the IP core will hit the market soon, said the company's spokesman.

Clients for Techno Mathematical's H.264 baseline IP core and encoder software include Texas Instruments Inc. and Marvell Semiconductor Inc. Nintendo has adopted the company's software for JPEG and other audio/video data processing for its Wii game console.

Licensing fees will be settled on a per-customer basis.

Promising company
The company was founded in June 2000 and is listed on Mothers, a Tokyo Stock Exchange market for venture companies. It had sales of about $5.4 million by the end of its last fiscal year. Sales for this fiscal year ending in March are forecasted to grow to about $8.6 million.

Techno Mathematical's IP license does not cover MPEG-related patents. Manufacturers that license the IP core will need to negotiate with related licensing bodies such as MPEG LA to integrate the IP core into their products.

- Yoshiko Hara
EE Times

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