Tutorial 4: Low Power Video Platforms for Mobile Applications


Wael Badawy; University of Calgary

Time & Location

Sunday Morning, May 23, 08:30 - 11:30, Location: Port McNeil


Over the last 20 years considerable research effort is seen in efficient representation of images and transmission of video images. Real-time video compression is computationally expensive due to the requirement of high compression efficiency. General-purpose processors and software acceleration can meet the requirement using high-end x86 Processors (P4, Athlon) to encode video in real time, but they are not suitable for small, low-power devices. Hardware acceleration with dedicated cores found a place in such cases by offering tiny size and low power, hence opening many opportunities for state-of-the-art video compression applications. The implementation schemes for the MPEG-4 fall in to three main categories, i.e. software, hardware-software co-design and full hardware. 1) Software Implementation: The software implementation is often seen on the Internet and PC applications with video CODEC software running on the PC's processor. It is not suitable for portable applications where price and power consumption of processor are often the main limitations. The MPEG-4 software reference model currently works at 6fps on 1.3 GHz processor for CIF format, and striving to achieve 15 fps as part of future optimization. 2) Hardware-Software co-design: It executes compute-intensive calculations in hardware and is less demanding in software. This scheme overall decrease need for calculation power of processor. The main challenge is motion estimation, which with typically the heaviest calculation, if implemented in hardware causes high bus traffic from hardware to software. 3) Full Hardware Implementation: It is a semi hardware approach where all modules are implemented in hardware and only control functions are kept in software. Calculations and interim results of various hardware blocks are held internally. In this case the processor load is very light and is needed only to handle control software. It has advantage of minimal power consumption, minimal use to processor and minimal bus traffic. However it runs in to severe disadvantage with lack of flexibility to target different applications. The main focus of the tutorial is to develop system-on-a-chip (SOC) platform for MPEG-4 simple profile encoder. It demonstrates a codesign approach where only two main computational modules i.e. Motion Estimation and DCT will be implemented in Hardware.

Mobile application introduces a much lower power and cost requirements. The level of hardware and software description of various modules has an important impact on the final implementation. An initial partition in to hardware and software based on computational complexity, data dependencies and modularity of architecture is adopted.

This tutorial presents architectures for Digital Video Codec with Mobile applications. It introduces the Design consideration for Handheld Systems. It also provides extensive examples for DVP architectures that include DCT, Wavelet, Motion Estimation.

Part I: Design issue for Mobile applications.
Part II: Video Codec Architectures
Part III: Overview of the design of the MPEG-4 Encoder for iPAQ Machines.

Presenter Information

Dr. Wael Badawy, P.Eng., FUPE, FPBD, FPKP, is associate professor of dept. of ECE at the University of Calgary. He authored and co-authored more than one hundred journal and conference papers, twenty technical reports and edited three books. He also holds an adjunct professor position in the University of Alberta. He is currently a chair Canadian Advisory Committee - SC6 "information exchange between systems" and member of the ISO/IEC SC29 MPEG Committee, VSI Alliance, and the IEEE-CAS TC on BioCAS, Communication and VLSI. Dr. Badawy is honored with the "2003 SMC Award," "2002 Petro-Canada Young Innovator Award", "2001 Micralyne Microsystems Design Award" and the "1998 Upsilon Pi Epsilon Honor Society and IEEE Computer Society Award for Academic Excellence in Computer Disciplines" and several best paper awards.

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