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Ten-dollar DaVinci delivers HD at 400mW

Posted: 05 Sep 2007 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:DaVinci video chips? DSP core? JPEG processing? coprocessor?

Texas Instruments Inc. has added to its DaVinci family of video-oriented chips the DM355priced at $9.75 each in 50,000 quantitieswhich is capable of high-definition (HD) MPEG-4 encode or decode and targets applications with low-cost and low-power requirements, such as digital cameras, Internet Protocol video cameras, digital photo frames and baby video monitors.

Like previous DaVinci entries, the DM355 includes an ARM926EJ-S core and the Video Processing Subsystem (VPSS), which provides hardware acceleration for tasks such as resizing, histogram generation and on-screen display. Unlike previous parts, the DM355 does not include a C64x+ DSP core. Instead, the new device uses a specialized coprocessor for MPEG-4 and JPEG processing.

That coprocessor helps the DM355 achieve very low power consumption: TI reports that the chip consumes less than 400mW for HD encode and less than 1mW when in "deep sleep" mode.

Kodak design win
TI's initial customer, Kodak, is already using the chip in a sub-$250 camera with HD capability.

The camera showcases many of the capabilities of the DM355. It features MPEG-4 720p encoding at 30fps, image and video stabilization, lens distortion and shading correction, and in-camera image editing.

The Kodak camera also boasts impressive battery life, delivering 80mins of HD video capture and display on two AA batteries.

The ARM core in the DM355 is clocked at 216MHz or 270MHz. (The 270MHz version is priced at $11.49 in 50,000 quantities). TI measures the speed of its coprocessors in equivalent DSP performance, that is, the number of cycles required to perform coprocessor tasks on a C64x+ DSP.

According to TI, the MPEG-4/JPEG coprocessor and VPSS offer an equivalent 640MHz of DSP performance.

Although it lacks a DSP, the DM355's video functionality is accessed via the same API provided for previous DaVinci devices. To speed development, TI offers a digital video evaluation module (DVEVM), which comes with MPEG-4, JPEG and G.711 codecs.

The DVEVM also provides a copy of Monta Vista Linux; Windows CE and open-source Linux are available through TI's third-party partners. If past experience is any indicator, the DVEVM will be a powerful, easy-to-use tool enabling rapid prototyping.

Diverse video apps
The DM355 is the 26th member of the DaVinci family. It is interesting to note that the only other DaVinci part priced at $9.75 is the DM6431, which features no ARM coreonly a 300MHz C64x+ DSP core and VPSS. The two chips have very different programming models, since developers working on the DM6431 will only program the DSP.

The large, diverse assortment of DaVinci parts reflects the ever-growing range of applications incorporating video. Applications such as digital cameras, mobile TV units, STBs, medical equipment and automotive infotainment all have specialized requirements, and device families that include members specialized for those applications will have an advantage.

The DM355 is sampling now in 216MHz and 270MHz versions that are priced at $9.75 and $11.49, respectively. The DVEVM development board is available now and is priced at $495.

- Seth Benton
Analyst, Cabral Consulting
- Kenton Williston
DSP DesignLine and President, Cabral Consulting




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