Ready. Set. Action! If you enjoyed the recent Oscar award-winning movie "Slumdog Millionaire," then you would have actually seen first-hand the performance of Intel® Architecture embedded processors- quite literally, in action! That's because this movie, which won among its eight Oscars the 2009 "Best Picture" and "Best Cinematography" awards, was captured in part with a digital camera by Silicon Imaging, Inc., powered by an Intel® CoreTM 2 Duo Processor.
Graphic courtesy of Silicon Imaging, Inc
When it comes to video processing, you won't find a more demanding user than a professional cinematographer. Cinema resolutions (2048x1152) exceed HD (1920x1080) and require the embedded processing engine to support 2.3 megapixel, 24 frame per second wavelet video compression processing, real time defective pixel correction and colorization at full resolution.
Prior to the availability of the Intel® CoreTM 2 Duo architecture, digital cinema camera systems were limited to dedicated hardware, such as costly ASICs, and did not have the flexibility of software upgradability or the connectivity options that are available from a general purpose embedded processing platform. Now, using standards-based embedded hardware with sufficient ruggedization, processing and graphics performance and IP connectivity enables film producers to shoot "film footage" directly to disk at full HD or cinema resolutions, changing the way movies are made.
Intel® Architecture is integrated into the SiliconImaging camera system by way of a standards-based CompactPCI®/Express Single Board Computer (SBC) developed by MEN Mikro Elektronik, a member company of the Intel® Embedded and Communications Alliance (ECA). Delivering the raw performance needed by this CPU-intensive application, the MEN F17 - 3U CompactPCI®/Express Core 2 Duo SBC features the Intel® CoreTM 2 Duo Processor T7600 running at 2.33GHz and an Intel® Graphics Media Accelerator (GMA) 950 Graphics Core, and supports Jumbo frames for transfer of 100MB/s of video data over standard Gigabit Ethernet. The ruggedized MEN F17 SBC is designed for operation in harsh environments including shock/vibration and extended temperatures, and with less than 50W power consumption it enables a long camera battery life. The standard off-the-shelf MEN F17 board is augmented by extension cards customized to SiliconImaging's camera application.
The MEN F17 is a member of a family of cPCI boards offered across a range of cost/performance points, which in turn leverages the scalability of the Intel Core Duo processor line. With the digital camera functionality continually evolving, a seamless performance growth path already exists to the MEN F18, F19 and beyond.
Future Performance Roadmap
Another benefit of using IA for the embedded processing engine, the same camera control software that runs on the rugged, digital cinema camera can also be run on a laptop computer, providing new options for video capturing.
Graphic courtesy of Silicon Imaging, Inc.
Some products have a colorful history. Before reaching commercial production stage and participating in the Oscar, this innovative application by MEN won an award of its own - the Intel® ECA Innovate and Ignite Developers Showcase. In recognition of Intel's ongoing commitment to the power of innovation, the Intel® ECA challenged its members to come up with something original, useful and extraordinary as part of a worldwide member-only competition. The prototype of this camera control system was judged to be a remarkable step toward standardization, customization and upgradeability of Mobile High Definition Video Capture and Transmission. In addition to its application in cinematography, MEN's HD video capture and transmission system, powered by the Intel® CoreTM 2 Duo processor, can be rapidly deployed in a variety of environments from military and surveillance to video production.
J. Felix McNulty