Suppose you could develop video processing algorithms and see the effect of changes on an HDTV within weeks, instead of typically months-long cycle times required today? And, suppose the video processing was state-of-the-art, allowing the creation of high quality HDTV? This is exactly the vision and promise that Marseille Networks is offering some of its initial customers.
Senior Analyst and Editor
for Insight Media
We had a chance to visit with the Silicon Valley-company recently to learn more about their approach and to see a demonstration of some of their video processing capabilities. The company was started in 2005 and has been quietly developing its video processing algorithms and design approaches ever since. Now, as it begins to roll out solutions with its first customers, the company is becoming a little more visible.
The idea is to create a "Video Through Virtualization" (VTV) platform that allows video processing algorithms (de-interlacing, scaling, noise reduction, cadence management, etc.) to be developed and evaluated in an emulation mode, before they are taped out into silicon. This is a major change from the way these chips are designed and developed now, and it allows customers to better optimize their particular set of video processing features for various HDTV sets. All of this can be done and viewed on HDTVs prior to committing to silicon.
"In the past, video processing companies would commit their designs to silicon and then go back to potential customers, hoping the design suited the needs that were discussed prior to tape out. If not, a new design cycle was implemented or the entire development cost for this customer was written off — a painful situation that Amine Chabane, President and CEO of Marseille Networks apparently experienced first hand with a previous employer. "The VTV platform is better for the video processing company and for the TV makers, as it lowers the risk for both."
Chabane then showed me several demos of their algorithms. In the main set up, Marseille Networks used side-by-side 40" Sony XBR-2 LCD HDTVs that were fed from two Samsung BD-P1200 Blu-ray players. One unmodified player contained the Reon VX video-processing chip from Silicon Optix, which Marseille views as the high quality benchmark to judge against. In the second player, the Reon chip was removed or bypassed, with the video processing being done by the VTV-1000 chip from Marseille, its main Video Through Visualization platform. Silicon Optix’s HQV test disc, fed to the HDTVs as a 1080p signal over HDMI, was used to provide images, patterns and videos for evaluation.
This demo showed that both chip sets were performing quite well, but the test also revealed some chroma losses in the green channel on the Reon chip that were not visible on the Marseille chip. We briefly looked at some of the other test images and videos and found the two chips performing roughly the same, a good result indeed.
When the output of the Samsung Blu-ray player is switched to 480i, the internal video processing within the Sony TV kicks in to process the signal for display on the 1920×1080 LCD. This test revealed some single pixel definition losses (see photo).
The simulation software cannot run in real time, but changes can be implemented fairly quickly, clearly speeding up the optimization process for each customer. Marseille Networks expects to release the VTV-1000 by the end of the year, targeting TV customers, with a mobile product to follow in 2010.
Is this the beginning of a new phase in the design/development cycle? If so, it may be profound, as it will not only speed up the cycle time for the video processing, but will provide a better way to differentiate TVs via this processing. We will definitely be keeping our eye on Marseille Networks.