Keywords: Video Compression, Video Capture, Video Transmission, Conflict Zones, High Definition Video, FPGA, SWaP.
GE Intelligent Platforms announced an enhanced version of the ICS-8580 rugged high definition video compression XMC module. Designed in response to the growing use of video in a broad range of defense applications, it allows higher quality moving images to be captured, transmitted and stored at higher speeds with lower latency and with minimal consumption of bandwidth or disk space. As such, it can make a positive contribution to decision making and troop safety.
The ICS-8580 can capture video inputs and archive or stream them over Ethernet, managing multiple streams and performing capture, manipulation, conversion, compression, storage, decompression and video display. Its rugged XMC form factor is designed to be compact, lightweight and consume little power, enabling it to be deployed in systems destined for harsh environments that are constrained by size, weight and power (SWaP).
The original version of the ICS-8580 has been widely deployed in programs, such as NASA's Global Hawk initiative.
Specifically, the enhancements from the previous version of the ICS-8580 include:
The provision of two DSPs, each of which can be configured as an encoder or decoder, providing greater system flexibility.
Full support for PCI Express, allowing uncompressed data to be uploaded and downloaded and improving configurability within custom systems
Provision of an SDK (software development kit) for faster integration with remote configuration options
Inclusion of six inputs and four outputs for flexible pass-through modes, allowing the use of many front end connectors and facilitating integration with legacy systems
Out of the box ability to connect to a NAS (network-attached storage) for easier integration.
Support for the synchronization of stereo or mono sound for improved flexibility.
In video capture and transmission, the primary challenge is how to maintain video quality in order to maximize critical detail while minimizing the use of bandwidth by implementing highly efficient algorithms: transmitting 'raw', unprocessed high definition video data at very high speed requires bandwidth that is rarely available in, for example, air-to-ground applications. Similarly, storage of high definition video data – for later review and analysis, for example - in its uncompressed form can require terabytes of disk space.
The ICS-8580 features H.264 video compression/decompression (codec) technology. It is considered to be up to 3x as efficient as other codec solutions, allowing vital image detail to be retained while occupying the minimum possible bandwidth or storage.
At the heart of the ICS-8580 lies a combination of a FPGA device coupled with dual DSP signal processors, providing abundant compute power for video applications. The FPGA enables video switching, format conversions, scaling, blending and other processing functions while the dual DSP processors enable multichannel video compression and decompression for over 100x reduction in bandwidth with minimal impact on video quality. It can handle up to two channels of full HD (1080p30) or UXGA (1,600 x 1,200 @ 30 frames/second) video, or up to four channels of standard definition video.
ARC Advisory Group