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Sub-$10 processor does HD video, runs Linux

Sep 4, 2007 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 11 views

[Updated Sep. 18] — Texas Instruments (TI) is sampling an ultra low-cost, ARM9-based embedded processor with an integrated high-definition (HD) video encoder. The chipmaker launched its sub-$10 TMS320DM355 SoC (system-on-chip), together with a development board running MontaVista Linux, at the IBC video broadcaster's convention in London this week.

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The DM355 targets portable, battery-powered consumer devices with HD video capabilities, such as digital cameras, IP video cameras, digital photo frames, video doorbells, and baby monitors. The DM355 draws only 400mW while encoding 720p MPEG-4 video streams, and only 1mW while standing by — miserly enough to “double” battery life compared to currently available devices, claims TI. For example, an AA battery-powered digital camera based on the chip should be able to record 80 minutes of HD video, the company suggests.

The DM355 is the newest product in TI's DaVinci processor line. To date, DaVinci SoCs have been dual-core chips that combine multimedia-oriented DSPs (digital signal processors) with an ARM-based applications processor or DSPs with integrated video processing subsystems.

The DM355 is based on an ARM926EJ-S RISC processor core clocked at 216 or 270 MHz. But instead of a DSP, the DM355 integrates an MPEG-4 and JPEG coprocessor (MJCP) core clocked at 640MHz, along with a dedicated video processing subsystem.

According to TI, the DM355's MJCP can encode or decode 720p HD MPEG-4 SP video at 30 frames per second, or JPEG at 50 megapixels per second; the video processing system — apparently an option on all DaVinci parts — is said to provide “hardware” implementations of a preview engine, histogram, resizer, and on-screen display, as well as a 10-bit D-A converter and video encoder, to save developers BOM (bill-of-materials) and integration costs.

DM355 function block diagram
(Click to enlarge)

The DM355 also integrates external memory interface (EMIF) controllers for power-saving DDR2 SDRAM and low-cost NAND flash; a pair of SD/MMC interfaces; high-speed (480Mbps) USB 2.0 OTG (on-the-go) interface; an EDMA (extended DMA controller); and, various serial interfaces and timers.

TI's DM355 dev kit includes MontaVista Linux
(Click to enlarge)

The DM355 is initially offered as part of a DM355 Digital Video Evaluation Module (DVEVM). The DVEVM comes with a Linux BSP (board support package) for MontaVista Linux Professional Edition, Das U-Boot bootloader, and “drivers for the complete peripheral set,” TI said.

John Dixon, DaVinci marketing manager, stated, “With this DaVinci, developers can add HD video functionality at a low price point.”


The DM355 is currently sampling, along with the $500 DM355 DVEVM. The SoC itself will be priced at $9.75 in OEM (original equipment manufacturer) quantities of 50,000 , although there appears to be an extra charge for production use of the included codecs for JPEG, MPEG-4 SP, and G.711, and for production use of the IP function blocks for video I/O, audio I/O, external EMAC, USB 2.0 OTG, and JTAG. ORCAD schematics are also available at no charge.

Support for other OSes, such as Windows CE, is available immediately from TI's third party network, the company said.

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