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Monday, December 01, 2003
Hong Kong's ASTRI announces enhanced MPEG-4 codec


The Hong Kong Applied Science and Technology Research Institute (ASTRI), a government funded organization, has developed what it claims is the world's first single-chip DSP-based MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 video Codec. Called MPEG-4 Turbo, the chip is a software implementation of a new video compression technology that is said to double the efficiency of digital transmission and capacity of storage without compromising the visual quality.

According to Chao Shen-Chang, VP of Commercial and Application Software Wireless Technology of ASTRI, the chip is able to compress 248Mbps raw video to 1-1.5Mbps at DVD quality. This represents a more than two-fold saving in bandwidth when compared to conventional MPEG-4 and MPEG-2 technologies. As a result, it also doubles video storage capacity of existing storage media. He said the chip is compliant with H.264/MPEG-4 AVC standards, but costs much less than high-end DSP or multi-DSP solutions.

Chao said that because MPEG-4 Turbo reduces transmission bit rate and increases storage efficiency, it is suitable for a range of electronic and telecommunications products, such as digital video cameras, broadband television, computer games, as well as for films distributed on CD and DVD. He said ASTRI is now working with several vendors of multimedia and broadcasting products, and products featuring MPEG-4 are expected to be available on the market in the first half of 2004.

Chao said it took about six months for the ASTRI team to develop this product, and one of the design challenges is to implement video compression with limited power consumption and to ensure compatibility among different parts.


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