Following successful events at Dolby and the 5G Innovation Lab at the University of Surrey, the third meeting of the DTG Emerging Technologies group was hosted by Imagination on 14th November 2013.  For those unable to attend, here’s a brief summary on what was discussed.

The Emerging Technologies group is an initiative established by the Digital TV Group, bringing together thought leaders to predict market trends and examine new technologies that will influence the digital TV industry.  The group attracts members from all corners of the digital TV segment, from broadcasters and middleware suppliers, through to major telecommunications providers and silicon vendors.  Hence the group maintains a unique view across the entire industry and can debate key issues affecting the entire digital TV segment.

Attendees at the meeting in November learnt about Imagination’s importance in the digital TV ecosystem and experienced several thought-provoking demonstrations illustrating the potential applications of GPUs in consumer electronics.

GPUs clearly have a role to play in advancement of the user experience in digital TV.  On show were slick user interfaces showcasing PowerVR graphics from Imagination’s own engineering teams in addition to those from ecosystem partners, such as Mentor Graphics and iFeelSmart.  Meanwhile GPU compute is becoming ever more important in smart TV, with applications from simple image processing through to face recognition and gesture driven interfaces.  Attendees were particularly impressed with the power-saving and performance increases afforded by using OpenCL to offload computation that would traditionally be achieved on CPU cores.  This is especially important in STBs where the CPU is often consumed in running the digital TV software stack and middleware.  Here the cost of the SoC is critical – being one of the most expensive components – so being able to use GPU resources for computation makes a lot of sense.

DTG Emerging Technologies-PowerVR performance Members of the DTG witnessing the performance of PowerVR GPUs

The future of video was also discussed during the meeting.  HEVC (H.265) and 4K are now a reality; notably 10-bit colour depth is now part of the Ultra HD profiles; high-dynamic range (HDR) video is becoming a possibility. On demonstration were advanced compression algorithms for HDR video from ecosystem partners, goHDR.  High-definition HDR video generates up to 42GBytes of data per minute, therefore the multiple exposures captured by the camera are often combined at the source to create an “optimum” HDR frame and the remaining data is then discarded.

However new compression algorithms developed at the University of Warwick enable delivery of HDR video at bit-rates low enough for broadcast over the open Internet, such that digital TVs, STBs, tablets and smartphones can select the optimum exposure for each frame of video during playback.  So, for example, a smart TV can automatically compensate for a bright room by changing the exposure level without any loss of clarity in the original image.  Or a security camera can capture a person concealed in the shadows and the operator can modify the brightness and contrast of the video in order to reveal them and expose the details in the video frame.

DTG Emerging Technologies-future DTV

Simon Forrest from Imagination presents a potential future of digital TV

The meeting concluded with a tour of Imagination’s demonstration room where attendees were shown the full spectrum of Imagination’s IP and its unique capabilities.  The advantages of OpenGL ES 3.0 were illustrated using SoCs with GPUs designed around the PowerVR Series6 architecture; and beyond, the beauty of ray-tracing in embedded GPUs in the not too distant future.  The efficiency and quality of PowerVR video encode and decode solutions was on show; Ensigma communication cores were also demonstrated, with the ability to demodulate all the worldwide TV and radio standards on a single SoC.  Finally, the breadth of products using MIPS processors was also notable, as attendees learnt that Imagination’s CPU cores power everything from network routers, through to tablets, smart TVs and set-top boxes.

The DTG Emerging Technologies group will next assemble in 2014; check for more information at the DTG website.  For those that wish to learn more about PowerVR graphics and how Imagination can support your own projects, please go to the Developers section of our website and register your interest.  It’s completely free to join; in return you’ll enjoy all the advantages of becoming a part of Imagination’s world leading ecosystem.

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About the author: Simon Forrest

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Simon Forrest is Director of Segment Marketing for Imagination Technologies, responsible for promoting the company’s class-leading graphics, display and communications IP and establishing partnerships with OEMs, service operators and companies operating within the home consumer electronics sector. A graduate in Computer Science from the University of York, Simon possesses over 20 years’ experience in broadcast and broadband technologies and is author of several patents. Prior to joining Imagination, Simon held senior technical management positions within Pace plc.

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