By Suhel Dhanani, AlteraJuly 03, 2007 -- pldesignline.com
FPGAs are increasingly being used in a variety of video and image processing applications, primarily due to the increased complexity and performance requirements that such applications demand. This article examines some of the challenges faced by designers who are implementing video applications in FPGAs and details how some of the tools provided by FPGA vendors can be used to alleviate key design challenges. To better understand these challenges, some of the trends driving the need for ever higher performance and thereby FPGA usage in video applications will be explored.Trends driving video applications to FPGAs
FPGAs are the ideal platform for implementing digital signal processing (DSP) algorithms with high computational requirements (i.e. high performance), since the ability of an FPGA fabric to lay down multiply-accumulate (MAC) resources in parallel can enable DSP performance that is at least an order of magnitude higher than programmable digital signal processors (DSPs).
Two key trends dominate the video design landscape today that pushes the envelope of available DSP power. One is the move inexorably towards high definition (HD) in everything – from displays and surveillance cameras to medical and military imaging systems. Processing a frame of HD video is approximately 4× to 6× the amount of data being processed when compared to a simple definition (SD) frame. This increased need for high definition data processing is driving video applications into higher performance platforms such as FPGAs.
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