Networked Video gets a Chip
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ViXS Systems of Toronto, Ontario is now sampling its XCode video networking processor to early customers.
XCode is an integrated circuit (IC) that adjusts video MPEG formats, bit rates, and resolutions on the fly over any IP network, wired or wireless (even HopePlug or HomePNA), though, as Wendel Smith, Director of Product Marketing at ViXS says, "We think wireless has the most growth. WLANs are inexpensive, future notebooks will have Wi-Fi built in -- it'll be as standard as a USB port. "
The XCode processor can format MPEG1 to MPEG2 to MPEG4 and reduce or increase bit rates from QCIF to standard resolution to high definition and back. It will provide real-time Quality of Service (Qos) over IP networks even with bandwidth limits or variations -- it makes sure a full 30 frames per second (required for full-motion video) makes it to the display destination. The chip uses network management software to monitor and manage video streams.
"Early on we were asked, why are you bothering about this, all the wireless QoS Standards will take care of this," says Smith. "Why do you need a processor to fix this? The standard can guarantee priorities for some streams -- if the bandwidth is available. It's a big if. They can't guarantee bandwidth if it can fall to a 10th of the original rating.
"What we've done is take a look at QoS and decided what matters to video -- it doesn't care about bit rate, it cares about frame rate. It wants 30 frames per second and we guarantee that with our process on an IP network."
Smith also notes that the XCode is getting interest in an area the company didn't predict, what he calls a Video Area Network. These are venues such as sports arenas where you can watch replays or close ups of events either in real time or as replays one handhelds or even seat mounted display screens.
There is also a full XCode development kit available from ViXS complete with software tools.
ViXS has also released an 802.11 communications processor targeting video use on wireless networks to complement the XCode's use in video gateway products. Smith says there are few details on it he can give out, but more information will be available before the end of the year.
ViXS began life in January of 2001 and has a management team comprised mainly of former ATI Technologies personnel. The company holds over 50 patents on video transmission technologies, with more pending.
Eric Griffith is managing editor of 802.11 Planet.
Curious about video over WLANs? Join us at the 802.11 Planet Conference & Expo, Dec. 3-5 in Santa Clara, CA. One of our sessions will cover "Distributing Wireless Entertainment."