Business Vision

JPEG2000 image-compression chip unveiled; Alliances accelerate; Technology trends...

Jun 1st, 2001

George Kotelly, Editor in Chief

georgek@pennwell.com

JPEG2000 image-compression chip unveiled
Analog Devices Inc. (ADI; Norwood, MA; www.analog.com) has released the ADV-JP2000 image-compression chip, which the company claims to be the industry's first silicon to support the new JPEG2000 image-compression standard. Aimed at the digital still-camera market, this chip provides the hardware acceleration needed for JPEG2000 image compression based on the company's Spatial Ultraefficient Recursive Filtering (SURF) wavelet technology. It assists JPEG2000 in achieving superior image quality, scalability of the compressed source for flexibility in extracting images in various degrees of quality and resolution, precise control over image quality and memory usage, and error resiliency for transmitting images in noisy environments.

The chip is fabricated in 0.18-µm CMOS, consumes 100 mW in active mode and less than 100 microamperes in power-down mode, features a nominal operating voltage of 1.5 to 1.8 V and 3.3 V I/O, and comes in a 48-pin LFBGA package. It can compress five 3-Mpixel images in 1 s. In addition, it provides lossless compression of images of up to 10 bits/ component and lossy support of up to 14 bits/component. This feature provides performance advantages over the original JPEG standard, which offers only 8 bits/component and does not support both lossless and lossy compression in a single format. The ADV-JP2000 is priced at $14 per unit in 10,000-piece quantities.

Designed by leading electronics companies—including Alcatel, Cannon, Ericsson, Kodak, Mitsubishi, and Motorola—the new JPEG2000 standard supports the capture and transmission of complex still images over wired and wireless networks. The worldwide market value is estimated by Kevin Kane to be in excess of $4.3 billion in 2000 and a forecasted value of $7 billion by 2004, as reported in the IDC report Worldwide Digital Camera, Market Forecast and Analysis, 1999-2004.

Says Daniel Lee of the International Organization for Standardization Joint Photographic Experts Group (www.jpeg.org) and chief technology officer of Yahoo! Asia, "JPEG2000 was designed from the ground up to provide a de facto standard for still-image transmission that will change the way that users control images captured by digital cameras and Web-Cam security systems, display images sent to them via Internet or cellular telephone, and more."

The JPEG2000 image-compression standard empowers users of digital still cameras as follows:

  • Constant Quality Mode—allows for the creation of small files. For example, a camera that uses JPEG2000 can, on average, store 50% more images than a camera that uses JPEG.
  • Exact File Size Mode—creates files to an exact programmed size, enabling users to take a specific number of pictures at the best possible quality.
  • User-Selectable File Size of Stored Images—enables users to change some images to lower quality to make more room in memory and to take more photos. With JPEG 2000, this transformation is conducted without recoding the images, thus occurring in real time and using minimal power. The JPEG standard requires several seconds and higher power to perform the same task.
  • Preview of Images in Multiple Sizes—allows users to view a single file in many different sizes, without requiring additional scaling computations or storing each image separately. In contrast, JPEG requires each "preview" image to be stored as a completely separate file, occupying more Flash memory storage and slowing the preview process.
  • Extensive File Format Support—JPEG2000 provides a comprehensive file format that supports all the audio and video capture features now being incorporated into digital still cameras in an ad hoc fashion. Therefore, it provides a common standard for use of multimedia files with digital still cameras.

"Based on our SURF wavelet-compression technology, the ADV-JP2000 demonstrates the power of JPEG2000 image compression for digital still images," says Roger K. Smith, ADI product line manager, video products group. "Users will not only gain more control over the quality and quantity of images stored on their digital cameras, but they will also be able to take complex images from their cameras and transmit them over the Internet. The user on the receiving end will then be able to select image size and quality based on available bandwidth."

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Alliances accelerate
FLIR Systems Inc. (Portland, OR; www.flir.com) and GlaxoSmithKline plc (Research Triangle Park, NC; www.gsk.com) have agreed to license an innovative drug-screening technology involving the use of infrared imaging to newly formed Thermogenic Imaging Inc. (Billerica, MA; www.thermogenicimaging.com) in exchange for stock in the company. The advanced infrared-imaging technology can measure temperature changes as small as 1/5000 of a degree Celsius. Small changes in cellular metabolism, growth, or toxic response can also be measured from the emitted thermal radiation.

In another alliance, FLIR Systems has agreed to purchase the Optronics Division of SaabTech Electronics AB (Stockholm, Sweden; www.saab.se), a leading vendor of defense, aviation, and space products and systems integration. The Optronics Division is a supplier of thermal-imaging subsystems for weapon systems to European defense electronic companies. In an additional agreement, Saab gains access to FLIR's latest infrared technology.

The recently launched Canadarm2 Space Station by Space Shuttle Endeavour is using four cameras and video-processing electronics from DALSA Corp. (Waterloo, Ont., Canada; www.dalsa.com). These cameras are enabling Canadarm2 to see and operate from 300 km above Earth's surface. The cameras, which contain a CCD image sensor and processing electronics, deliver captured images to space-station computers. In turn, the computers read and display the images to the astronauts in the space station, allowing them to control Canadarm2. To see images and photos from the International Space Station with Canadarm2, visit www.shuttlepresskit.com.

Iris-recognition systems branded by Panasonic Security & Digital Imaging Co. (Secaucus, NJ; www. panasonic.com/iris) for access-security applications will incorporate technologies developed by Iridian Technologies (Marlton, NJ) and Matsushita Communication Industrial Co Ltd. (Yokohama, Japan). The first iris technology system, called Panasonic Authenticam, will be introduced in the United States during the third quarter of 2001. Panasonic Authenticam will be bundled with Private ID iris-recognition software for stand-alone applications on individual computers. For networked-based applications, Iridian will offer the KnoWho server to manage large databases of iris images. Both Authenticam and KnoWho will be marketed through Iridian Technologies and sold through Tech Data, a leading US distributor.

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Technology trends
Sharp Microelectronics of the Americas (Camas, WA; www.sharpsma.com) has unveiled its advanced super view (ASV), liquid-crystal-display (LCD) color technology for thin-film-transistor industrial control and large-screen applications, including medical instrumentation. This technology provides a viewing angle to 170° both horizontal and vertical, LCD response times to less than 25 ms, and no bright pixel defects.

Semiconductor manufacturer Intel Corp. (Santa Clara, CA; www.intel.com) is making its first chips using 0.13-µm technology at its DC1 plant in Hillsboro, OR. The 0.13-µm chips will contain copper wires, rather than the aluminum Intel presently uses in its 0.18-µm technology. Copper helps the chips to operate faster, cooler, and cheaper. Moving to larger 300-mm-diameter wafers soon is expected to save Intel as much as 30% over the use of 200-mm wafers.

August Technology Corp. (Bloomington, MN; www.augusttech.com) has introduced its 3Di-8000 high-speed bump- and wafer-inspection system. This system measures the height and coplanarity of solder and gold bumps or wafer-level interconnects between a die and a package or circuit board. It incorporates the company's patent-pending 3-D rapid confocal sensor and proprietary 2-D bump and active die-inspection technologies.

Sarnoff Corp. (Princeton, NJ; www.sarnoff.com) has made available its Blinc CMOS-imager smart digital camera in prototype and small quantities for use in machine-vision, surveillance, and automotive applications. This 1.2-in.-square by 1.0-in.-deep camera delivers a 110-dB dynamic range and captures all the details in scenes even when they present simultaneous sunlight and dark shadow. Camera features include an on-board 16-bit DSP, still image and 30-frame/s video capture, digital and analog outputs at 640 x 480-pixel resolution, and power-down to image capture in less than 1/10 s.

The Optical Storage Technology Association (OSTA; Santa Barbara, CA: www.osta.org), an international trade association that promotes the use of recordable optical technologies and products, reports that shipments of 9.1-Gbyte (14x) magneto-optical (MO) 5.25-in.-disk products are underway by suppliers such as DISC, Hewlett-Packard, Maxoptic, Plasmon, Sony, and Verbatim. This 9.1-Gbyte technology provides full backward-read compatibility with all previous 5.25-in.-disk MO capacities, such as existing 5.2- and 2.6-Gbyte products. Key technology features include data-transfer rate of up to 6 Mbytes/s, 25-ms average seek time, 660-nm laser diode, 0.575 numerical-aperture objective lens, 0.3-µm/bit linear bit density, 0.65-µm track pitch, and a 3.3-Gbit/in2 aerial bit density—a 75% increase over 5.2-Gbyte technology.

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