V-Nova preps UHD/4K silicon IP for licensing

V-Nova preps UHD/4K silicon IP for licensing

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By eeNews Europe

V-Nova (London, England) was founded in 2011 by executives who had worked on previous generations of MPEG and other video standards and who considered many of the approaches contained there in no longer fit for purpose. This is because both the scale of the computational burden and the hardware resources available in terms of parallel processing and memory have changed significantly in the era of 4K-resolution images.

A consortium that includes Intel, Broadcom, Hitachi Data Systems and Italian satellite television service provider Sky Italia helped launch V-Nova in April 2015 and the Perseus technology is in the process of being deployed by Sky Italia, according to Fabio Murra, senior vice president of product and marketing at V-Nova.

In the course of the last nine months V-Nova has demonstrated ports of its software to a variety of GPU and processor architectures as well as demonstrations of its technology running on various hardware platforms. These have included Nvidia GPUs and x86 platforms from Intel and SoCs from Broadcom and STMicroelectronics.

However, Murra acknowledged that the most power efficient implementation of the technology would come in the form of silicon designed specifically to implement Perseus. Murra told eeNews Europe it was too early to disclose a silicon timetable or whether V-Nova was already working with a particular foundry to produce test silicon in particular manufacturing node, but he confirmed that Perseus as silicon IP was on the company’s roadmap.

"Clearly there are advantages [for silicon IP] in terms of memory foot print and power consumption," Murra said. "But we are starting at the top of the stack, if you like, and working our way down. But it is still early days. We are now employ 70 people whereas one year ago we were only 20."

Next: Use the parallelism

The parallel processing nature of Perseus was one reason an Nvidia GPU was chosen as the first port for a technology that V-Nova claims makes it a UHD/4K performance leader with high quality images delivered at 300Mbps or 2.5 percent of the original uncompressed signal size. Both encoding and decoding processes can run in real-time on a single Nvidia GPU well below the 16ms necessary to process a full frame UHD/4K picture at 60 frames per second.

With the latest Nvidia GPU silicon that performance has been pushed to an 8ms encode/decode time allowing real-time performance of 120fps, Murra said.

GPU-powered Perseus products are now being deployed in video contribution applications delivering feeds from events through the backbones of IPTV and mobile service providers.

Over the last year V-Nova has announced collaborations with telecommunications equipment company Alcatel-Lucent SA, now part of Nokia, with IT services provider NTT Data, and with broadcast equipment supplier VideoFlow Ltd. It has also conducted trials with Germany’s IRT (Institut fur Rundfunktechnik), with mobile telephone service operator EE and with Spanish telecoms and broadband operator Telefonica SA. In November 2015 Telefonica used Perseus to for a UHD transmission of the Barcelona versus Real Madrid soccer match that was transmitted on Canal+.

While Perseus represents a break with past methods of encoding it has been designed so as to provide backwards compatibility, said Murra. "Perseus can be deployed on top of other compression algorithms such as MPEG2, VP9, MPEG4 H.264, HEVC. This means Perseus can be transmitted as metadata and this allows older equipment to continue to operate."

But V-Nova is not the only company trying to carve out a position in UHD/4K. It was announced at the Consumer Electronics Show that Technicolor SA (Paris, France) and Royal Philips Electronics (Amsterdam, The Netherlands) would merge their approaches to high dynamic range (HDR) on UHD/4K. In an interview with EE Times, representatives from Philips and Technicolor stressed that Ultra HDTV needed to be a noticeable upgrade to sell it to consumers and that HDR was likely to be as important as the resolution. Dolby Laboratories Inc. is another player trying to establish its approach to HDR on UHD/4K.

Related links and articles:

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EE Times Silicon 60: 2015’s Startups to Watch

Six things to know about HDR, 4K TV

UHD TV adoption will hit viewers’ energy bills


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