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.