Saturday, June 15, 2024

Audio/Video Processors for Embedded Multimedia Designs

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Modernised system on chips (SoC) solutions
On one hand there is a wide range of fully integrated smart TV SoCs, supporting full HD through the high resolution best suited for 3D graphics and 3D gaming. On the other hand there are scalable processors with affordable ARM architecture solutions. These offer a broad range of performance, price and power consumption to meet just about every need, and also include video accelerators, advanced graphics and display capabilities and high-speed connectivity with a rich set of peripherals that are optimised for a broad spectrum of digital video end equipment.

Consumer. SoCs with ARM architectures plus built-in hardware video accelerator engines are the solutions for applications such as tablets and mobile phones. “The mobile phone budget cannot afford so many dedicated chipsets for analogue-to-digital (A/D) conversion, codecs and for transmission. When you talk of an SoC, it develops a balance between the cost, performance and power, providing the complete ecosystem with the associated software at a good price that can fit into the mobile phone or a tablet,” says Avinash Babu, senior architect, Mistral Solutions.

Automotive. for automotive multimedia designs which have been gaining popularity, the multi-tuner RFCMOS single-chip solutions with embedded AM, FM and DAB tuners offer a combined car radio and audio system fully integrated on a single IC. These can help you build the system with significantly reduced system costs via a reduced bill of material (BOM).

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Time to market is also a very important factor for the designers. Gaurav Kapoor, sales manager, Intersil Corp, India, says, “There are simple low-cost controllers that help designers to kick start design and time to market, as there are no software protocols required since these devices can run by setting the simple register mapping.”

These controllers can be best suited for simple automotive safety applications such as rear-view camera display where, instead of having complex software-based controllers for the interaction with the display devices, you can use these dedicated LCD controllers for straight connection with digital LCD panel. You can thus make the solution ready within a couple of weeks and production ready within a few months because of simpler designing.

Critical applications. Talking about surveillance and portable processing needs for weapon-mounted sights, handheld range and target finders, and unmanned air or ground platforms, the module should first meet the demanding size, weight and power constraints. The combination of dedicated image-processing cores and an abundance of peripherals in a single integrated circuit has resulted in all-in-one image processors with a general-purpose computer. These can be useful for performing other critical non-vision tasks, such as flight control and system-to-system communication.

The optimised real-time vision-processing hardware performs operations such as noise reduction, image enhancement, image fusion, stabilisation and object tracking.

HDMI transceivers
These transceivers have evolved offering flexibility for your designs. These allow you to separate the audio from video or vice versa. Such transceivers let the video pass through and bring out a compressed audio on the device for DSP to process. A good thing about such devices is that these are not only useful for home audio and video but also for professional AVs.

Subramanyam of Analog Devices, India says, “You can take the audio out from these transceivers and reinsert it back, which is a kind of requirement for studio equipment. It offers a kind of great flexibility, taking audio from one channel and putting audio and video on different locations.”

Smart amplifiers
An amplifier is an integral part of an audio system. Digital amplifier products, where analogue quality performance, reduced size and improved energy efficiency are at premium, have been the focus of the market in recent times. As a result, the ‘smart’ amplifiers have surfaced for helping the design engineers. These smart amplifiers amplify the signal with constant monitoring of the functional device, thereby protecting it from damage and at the same time ensuring the quality of the output.

Ganapathy explains, “The smart amplifier technology allows you to have a 5W speaker with 10x the range without damaging the speakers, so with 5W you can have the 50W experience and thus have more compact designs. It continuously monitors speaker characteristics and responds accordingly; this is how you get good audio tones without damaging the speakers.”

Over the years use of smart devices has become common, but the potential interference they generate has always retarded the aim of providing an excellent sound performance. The new amplifiers that have come up for the smart devices, provide increased GSM robustness to mitigate the influence of smartphones on loudspeakers, resulting in a cost-effective solution that improves sound quality.

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