Virtual-ASIC processor is ready for UHD video

16th February 2015
Barney Scott

Calibre has announced a virtual-ASIC video processor capable of scaling, switching, enhancing, correcting and converting UHD formats including 4K and WQXGA. Based on Altera FPGAs, Calibre’s virtual-ASIC technology will be offered as Calibre Pro-AV products as well as own-label, board-level and custom options for OEMs, enabling rapid creation of products for the professional AV industry as UHD video formats are adopted.

As the industry is moving to designing UHD products, design engineers find that qualified ASICs no longer exist to meet their needs. The companies which traditionally produced such technology have been acquired, and technology refocused in volume consumer markets over recent years. This situation, together with UHD forcing new system architectures, has opened a unique opportunity for Calibre.

Calibre has designed the unique component set in-house, enabling it to be more efficient and responsive to customer needs. It offers compatibility with future processing requirements as well as FPGA device families to ensure design re-use as standards and customer requirements progress.

Key technology advances include Calibre’s HQUltra low latency, high-performance, efficient scaling algorithm and HQUltraFast input channel switching capable of changing inputs in under 0.25s.

Projection Mapping is another perfect target application, supported by Calibre’s HQUltraWarp algorithm in the warp-enabled version of Calibre’s virtual-ASIC. High quality real-time UHD warping requires extreme processing capability which is available due to the combination of Calibre’s efficient algorithms and architecture together with the inherent high performance of Altera’s FPGAs.  For example HQUltraWarp supports real-time live adjustment of geometric mapping points for warp and blend providing easy manual warp alignment without the need for external calibration software.

A broader range of demanding video processing applications will equally benefit from Calibre’s virtual-ASIC video processors.

Initial technology is based on the Altera Cyclone V FPGA and provides internal processing of 300MP/s on the primary channel and 150MP/s on the secondary channel. This means that the processing device can support 4K50/60 4:2:0, 2.5K60 4:4:4 and 1080p/WUXGA 4:4:4 as well as Full-HD picture-in-picture and picture-by-picture functionality.  A 600MP/s version based on forthcoming Altera Arria 10 is also in development for 4K50/60 4:4:4 and higher support.

Another benefit of Calibre’s virtual-ASIC is its integration of multiple input channels with virtually instant sub 0.25s switching between them.  This makes Calibre’s technology suitable for integration into high performance scaler-switchers.

For in-camera and broadcast applications, genlock capability is included, ready for future implementation of streaming video.

“Calibre’s virtual-ASIC is an innovative solution that addresses the Pro-AV industry’s needs for a cost-effective UHD video processor, originally created and supported by Calibre for a high quality, easy to use design experience,” said Herve Mer, Market Development Manager, Altera. “Calibre’s decision to choose Altera FPGAs, enabling a programmable semiconductor platform, means its customers will have the flexibility for rapid integration to meet their specific needs.”

“Calibre processing technology has been applied to real market needs and this processing technology will lead the way as more manufacturers choose their UHD processing technology,” said Tim Brooksbank, Chairman, Calibre. “Over three and half years of intensive R&D development was conducted to create this virtual-ASIC video processor technology - an extremely ambitious project. ISE 2015 is the ideal meeting place to launch publicly. Calibre’s partners and OEMs are all demanding new technologies as markets move forwards, they are all keen to work more closely with Calibre but need new models to come to market faster, with more capabilities and key “must have” features such as 4K resolution.”

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