CONSUMER

Providing rich quality video solutions to consumers through FPGAs.

Consumer electronic products are dramatically improving every year by continually adding features. This fast evolution puts tremendous competitive time pressure on consumer electronic manufacturers for products with the latest technology.

Fast to Market

Using Intel FPGA low-cost programmable logic and HardCopy® ASICs in your systems enables a fast, risk-free path to high volume and helps you handle nearly continuous change while still maintaining project deadlines. Intel, with a record for consistently reliable product delivery, has millions of FPGAs in market-winning consumer electronics product designs.

Applications

Through Intel FPGA solutions the consumer electronics industry is equpped to be fast to market with new products in flat panel displays, portable media players, and home networking products.

Digital set-top boxes (DSTBs) receive and decode television broadcasts from satellite, cable, and/or terrestrial sources.

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Blu-ray players and recorders play back decompressed and record compressed high-quality digital video and audio.

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Portable applications, also known as mobile devices, include many types of consumer handheld devices such as mobile handsets, smartphones, mobile Internet devices, portable media players, electronics toys/games, portable navigators, and digital camera/camcorders.

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Overview

The analog-to-digital conversion has introduced many new standards in audio and video, which greatly improves the quality and affordability of the multimedia digital experience. Further, with the proliferation of broadband, accessing the media has become easy and rewarding for consumers. With easy access and the rich quality enabled by the digital revolution, the following consumer electronic trends are emerging:

  • In-Home Entertainment—With prices of flat-panel TVs (LCD, Plasma, and DLP) falling more than 30 percent a year, large screen HDTVs are showing up in more and more homes. With homes equipped with HDTVs, and high-definition (HD) content available through broadband, terrestrial, cable, and satellite, consumers now enjoy the complete theater experience in the convenience of their homes. HDTVs will become more mainstream with the imminent availability of HD content and DVD players.
  • Staying Connected—Within a home and while traveling, consumers want to stay connected. Historically, they used their laptops for accessing email and the Internet. However, with terrestrial and mobile broadcast services for handheld devices becoming common and broadband wireless connectivity (WiFi and WiMAX) becoming ubiquitous, mobile devices such as cell phones, PDAs, and portable media players are being used to access audio, video, and data. Providers of these mobile devices are constantly updating their technology features to keep up with consumer demand.
  • Media and Data Convergence—Traditionally, there were data-centric devices such as PCs and PDAs and media-centric devices such as TVs and portable media players. However, the line between them is becoming blurry because consumers are demanding products that can handle both. The new generation of consumer gadgets must handle both media and data on the same platform. Such convergence is driving many traditional data-centric companies such as Microsoft and Cisco to enter the consumer market, creating fierce competition for traditional consumer brands.

These trends indicate that the consumer electronics market is in a rapid evolution phase and the manufacturers are under tremendous competitive pressure to be first-to-market with unique and differentiated products. However, a successful product in the consumer market quickly attracts copycat products from the competition, leading to rapid price erosion. To stay ahead of the competition, consumer manufacturers are forced to constantly enhance their products or support emerging technologies. For these reasons, we are seeing a dramatic reduction in the consumer product life cycle.

Traditional design methodologies of using ASSPs or ASICs alone come with significant drawbacks. ASSPs come with a pre-defined feature set and rarely support the latest technology features, making it impossible for manufacturers to offer differentiated products. ASICs have long development cycles that run counter to the short product cycle requirements of consumer markets. Hence, new design methodologies that promote flexibility, rapid innovation, and low initial development costs are required. For system designers, this means using programmable logic devices (PLDs) along with ASICs or ASSPs to provide the agility and differentiation needed to be competitive in the consumer electronics market.

Why Consumer Electronics Manufacturers Are Choosing Intel

Figure 1 illustrates how the programmable logic approach can deliver first-to-market benefits in the initial release stage and, conversely, how relying on ASICs and ASSPs alone forces manufacturers into releasing products late or with dated features. A PLD/ASIC-ASSP methodology can assure rapid innovation to maintain industry leadership. This design approach can be effectively combined with a rapid and low-risk path from an FPGA to ASIC solution as production volume rises. Only Intel has delivered millions of FPGAs for consumer electronic product designs.

PLD-Enabled Development

Digital Entertainment Consortia

The following chart provides brief descriptions of digital entertainment consortia.

Organization or Agency

Description

Product Standards Regulated

Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) The CEA promotes various consumer electronics standard specifications relating to market trend and future products.
  • All consumer-related electronics gadgets and equipment
802.11 IEEE standards that define wireless “over-the-air” interfaces between wireless clients, or a wireless client and a basestation or access point.
  • Digital television
  • Digital set-top box (DSTB)
  • Residential gateway
  • Digital versatile disk (DVD) player/recorders
Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC) This committee defines standards for digital television, interactive systems, and broadband multimedia communications. The U.S. is one of several countries using ATSC standards for digital television broadcasts.
  • Digital television
  • DSTB
Digital Video Broadcasting (DVB) This consortium defines standards for digital television, interactive systems, and broadband multimedia communications. Digital video broadcasting (DVB) standards are used in Europe, as well as other regions, for digital television broadcasts.
  • Digital television
  • DSTB
Digital Display Working Group (DDWG) This group defines standards for interfacing digital hosts to digital displays. Digital visual interface (DVI) is a popular standard that was defined by the DDWG.
  • Digital television monitor
  • Plasma Display Monitor
  • LCD Display Monitor
High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) This interface was developed to support the transfer of uncompressed, all-digital audio and video between any audio/video source.
  • Digital television
  • DSTB
  • Residential gateway
  • DVD player/recorders
Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG) MPEG is an International Standards Organization (ISO) committee that develops standards for coding and compressing digital audio and video. MPEG coding is the basis for technologies such as MP3, DVDs, and Internet streaming video.
  • Digital television
  • DSTB
  • Residential gateway
  • DVD player/recorders
DVD Forum The DVD forum develops standards for DVD products, including improvements and enhancements to current implementations.
  • DSTB
  • DVD player/recorders
HAVi Organization HAVi Organization promotes a network architecture for home audio and video equipment interoperability through a single firewire interface.
  • DSTB
  • Audio video equipment
IEEE 1394 The IEEE 1394 defines a high-speed serial standard that provides flexible and cost-effective connections for real-time (isochronous) information between data-intensive applications such as audio/video equipment and PCs.
  • Digital video camera
  • DSTB
  • DVD/video recorders

The following list provides brief definitions for common digital entertainment terms.

Term or # Description    
1394 The standard for a digital connection or bus used to transfer data between two independent systems. The 1394a standard provides 400-Mbps bandwidth but the reach is limited to 3 or 4 meters. The 1394b standard extends the bandwidth to 800 Mbps and the reach to a whole-house environment. 1080i Type of high-definition television (HDTV) image, 1,080 vertical lines by 1,920 horizontal pixels wide, displayed in interlaced format. (16:9 aspect ratio, 29.97 Hz frame rate, as defined by the Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC) standard.)
720p Type of high-definition television (HDTV) image, 720 vertical lines by 1,280 horizontal pixels wide, displayed in progressive format. (16:9 aspect ratio, 59.94 Hz, 29.97 Hz, and 23.98 Hz frame rates, as defined by the ATSC standard.) 480p High-definition television (HDTV) image 480 vertical lines by 720 horizontal pixels displayed in progressive format (4:3 or 16:9 aspect ratio, 59.94 Hz, 29.97 Hz, and 23.98 Hz frame rates, as defined by the ATSC standard.)
480i Type of standard digital television (SDTV) image, 480 lines by 720 pixels wide, displayed in interlaced format. (4:3 or 16:9 aspect ratio, 29.97 Hz frame rate, as defined by the ATSC standard.) 802.11b IEEE specification for wireless networking at 11 Mbps.
802.11g IEEE specification for wireless networking at 54 Mbps over short distances.    
       
Analog A type of waveform signal that contains information such as image, voice, and data. Analog signals have unpredictable height (amplitude) and width (frequency) and can vary infinitely over a given range. Aspect ratio Ratio between the width and height of the video image. Standard National Television System Committee (NTSC), phase-alternation line (PAL), Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC) (standard definition) and digital video broadcasting (DVB) (standard definition) use a 4:3 ratio, ATSC and DVB high-definition formats use a 16:9 format.
Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC) Committee established by the FCC to define new standards for publicly regulated broadcast television in the U.S. Advanced Television Enhancement Forum (ATVEF) A standard for combining intellectual property (IP) data with television video.
       
B frame An MPEG-2 compressed video frame derived by extrapolation between previous and future frames. Bandwidth A measure of the capacity of a circuit or channel. In other words, the amount of information transferred between points within a specified time period.
Broadband Term that generally refers to high-bandwith capacity. Broadband has a multi-channel capacity that is greater or equal to 45 Mbps (US standard) or 34 Mbps (European / international standards).    
       
Conditional access (CA) A cryptographic technique for controlling which receivers are able to access a particular signal. Coded orthogonal frequency division multiplexing (COFDM) The modulation scheme selected by the DVB committee for digital terrestrial broadcast television. (See "Modulation" below.)
Compression A mathematical method of reducing the amount of digital information needed to re-create a television picture or frame. Content protection (CP) Cryptographic and design techniques used to limit how data flows within a receiving device and between devices. Generally this is used to restrict copying of copyright protected material.
       
Datacasting Jargon referring to the propagation of information from one source to another source Demodulation A method for extracting digital information stored in a specific pattern on a radio frequency (RF) signal.
Digital Information sent as a series of high (1) and low (0) signals separated by a fixed period of time. Discrete Cosine Transform (DCT) A step used in the MPEG coding process to convert data from spatial to temporal domain.
Digital light projection (DLP) A technique developed by Texas Instruments that creates a video image on a piece of silicon and uses mirrors and light to project the image onto a viewable screen. Digital satellite service (DSS) MPEG-2-based digital transmission format (e.g., DirectTV).
Digital set-top-box (DSTB) A device that receives and decodes digital video broadcasts for consumer viewing. Digital television (DTV) A device that receives, decodes, and displays digital video broadcasts (in both high-definition and standard-definition formats) for consumer viewing
Digital video broadcast (DVB) MPEG-2-based digital television standard that defines formats for cable, satellite, and terrestrial broadcast. Digital visual interface (DVI) Digital connection between a video source and a monitor. Replaces video graphics array (VGA).
       
Encryption A mathematical technique for scrambling information such that only those with a key piece of information can unscramble the information to recreate the original message. Enhanced television Any of several techniques for providing a viewer with additional information associated with a television program or advertisement.
       
Federal Communications Commission (FCC) The U.S. government body responsible for setting and enforcing regulations of transmissions over publicly accessible airwaves Frame The lines and columns of pixels that make up the displayed image. Video speed, expressed as frames per second (FPS), gives the rate at which the video image is updated.
       
High-definition television (HDTV) High-definition video formats that have 16:9 aspect ratio. Generally refers to 1080i or 720p images. (See "1080i" and "720p" above.) Hypertext markup language (HTML) Standard text format used for Internet documents.
       
I frame An MPEG-2 compressed video frame containing most of the original information. Used as a reference to build subsequent B and P frames. Inverse discrete cosine transform (IDCT) A step in the MPEG decoding process to convert data from temporal back to spatial domain.
Interactive television A capability in DTV or DSTB that allows a user to control the action of the television and view the results of his/her action on the television. Interlaced A scanning technique in a video system where odd and even horizontal lines of a video frame are displayed during alternating update cycles. Lines 1,3,5, etc. are displayed during the first cycle, creating one field. Lines 2,4,6, etc. are displayed on the second cycle, creating the next field. Two fields combine to make one frame.
       
Macrovision A copy-protection scheme that inhibits illegal copying of analog television programs. Macrovision Corporation developed and licenses the technology. Modulation A technique for embedding digital information in a radio carrier wave for broadcast.
Motion compensation (MC) A step in the MPEG-2 video decompression (decoding) process. MPEG-2 A mathematical technique for compressing video data to reduce the data file size.
Multicasting Generally, multicasting refers to propagation from one source to only a subset of potential destinations. It also means a technique for simultaneously sending multiple DTV programs on a single channel. The frequency used to carry a single analog television program can be used to carry up to six digital programs.    
       
National Television System Committee (NTSC) The committee that decided on the compatible color television system for the US. The FCC adopted it in 1953.    
       
Phase-alternating line (PAL) The analog color video composite system developed in Europe and used by countries around the world. It is similar to the NTSC standard, but it uses a sub-carrier phase alternation technique that makes certain kinds of transmission errors appear to cancel. P frame An MPEG-2 compressed video frame containing original information and information derived from previous frames.
Pixel The smallest unit of color in a display. Frames are made up of lines and columns of pixels. The number of pixel lines in each frame expresses video resolution. Plasma display panel (PDP) Flat panel display using plasma electronic technology.
Pay-per-view (PPV) A technique of controlling television access whereby the customer is charged on the basis of what programs he/she watches. Progressive A picture-scanning process where all the lines of the image are scanned by every vertical scan.
       
Quadrature amplitude modulation (QAM) A modulation method used by cable DTV that combines changes in phase and amplitude to send four bits with each baud. Quadrature phase shift keying (QPSK) A modulation method used by satellite DTV that transmits information by varying the phase of a sine wave.
       
Radio frequency (RF) Refers to the use of radio carrier waves to transmit a broadcast signal. (See "Modulation" above.) Red, green, blue (RGB) The basic color signals used to drive a display.
       
Standard definition television (SDTV) Standard definition video format that has 4:3 aspect ratio. Generally refers to 480i. (See "480i" above.)    
       
Terrestrial television Television signals broadcast from local radio towers. Homes with antennas capable of picking up the broadcast signals are able to receive the television program.    
       
Universal serial bus (USB) A digital connection between two separate electronic devices which provides "plug-and-play" capability.    
       
Video on demand (VOD) The viewer pays a small fee to the television service provider in order to watch particular movies listed on the on-screen television menu. Similar to pay-per-view. Vestigial sideband (VSB) Modulation scheme selected by the U.S. Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC) for digital terrestrial broadcast television. (See Modulation.)

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