This project aims to promote the MPEG-2 digital video standard in the computer world by offering high performance and cost optimised technology and tools to achieve and support the video capture and compression process. The specific objectives are:
1. Develop a high performance MPEG-2 single chip encoder/decoder for PCI boards in PCs, performing real time capture, compression, decompression and restitution of full screen, full colour and full speed video.
2. Develop an integrated system for real time MPEG-2 video capture, compression, decompression and restitution including a PCI add-on board together with Windows drivers and application software.
3. Develop an external 3.5" removable cartridge disk drive subsystem providing 4.5 GB capacity on three 1.5 GB cartridges, and optimised for MPEG-2 video applications.
4. Integrate all the components, together with suitable software and Windows drivers, into a DVD premastering demonstration system.
Original Project Objectives:
The overall objective of VIPER was to develop and integrate technologies into tools for use in low cost, high quality MPEG-2 production systems which require capture, compression, storage, video and system information.
Two companies have cooperated in the project:
- Myrica has been in charge of developing a removable storage subsystem optimised for MPEG-2 video acquisition applications. Unfortunately, during the course of 1999, there have been major changes within Iomega Corporation, which have ultimately closed off Myrica's exploitation potential for VIPER. Indeed Myrica closed down on August 1999;
- VITEC Multimedia has been in charge of developing an integrated system for real time MPEG-2 processing including a specific ASIC "G2". VITEC was also in charge of integrating all the components together with suitable software and Windows drivers, for DVD premastering.
Project results include:
- MPEG-2 codec VLSI A high performance MPEG-2 single chip encoder/decoder for PCI boards in PCs, performing real time capture, compression, decompression and restitution in Half D1 MPEG-2 format with full I, P, B pictures algorithm- with a manufacturing cost below 20 Euro;
- PCI MPEG-2 codec system:
An integrated system for real time video capture, compression, decompression and restitution - and, with the accompanying storage subsystem, recording and replay - in the MPEG-2 format (audio, video, system), including a PCI add-on board together with Windows drivers and application software, for less than 700 Euro end-user cost;
- DVD Premastering demonstration system:
- A complete demonstration system, integrating all the above components together with suitable software and Windows drivers, for DVD premastering.
The marketable result of the above is a complete package for DVD creation including tools for encoding, editing and authoring DVD-Video.
This final commercial package shipping in February 2000 and competitively priced under 1000 Euro will bring DVD-Video creation to the home market for the very first time.
Unlike its competitors who sell small quantities of very expensive high end products, VITEC Multimedia has become the market leader in MPEG-1 encoders by selling much bigger quantities at a much lower price. This was achieved by developing proprietary VLSI chips to decrease the cost and increase the performance.
VITEC now intends to develop a second generation VLSI, able to encode (and decode) MPEG-2 with high quality at a very low cost. To achieve this objective, they will develop an ASIC optimised for the application and taking advantage of the power of the PC environment to minimise the silicon required. The VIPER project will develop such a VLSI, as well as a complete PC add-on board and supporting software which make full use of the chip's capabilities in MPEG-2 video acquisition applications.
One thing that characterises such digital video applications more than anything else is the huge volume of data that needs to be moved around at high speed - all of which eventually has to be stored somewhere. The constraints that this places upon current storage devices overwhelms them. Tape drives are extremely slow to access, whilst CD-ROM and optical drives cannot maintain the data transfer rates required.
The only technology that comes close to achieving the transfer rates and access times required for digital video is the well established magnetic hard disk drive. However, in spite of the enormous advances that have been made in the technology, these machines do have a finite capacity - even the biggest drives of 4 GB or more can soon become totally filled. What is clearly needed is an extension of this technology into a device that has unlimited capacity. Such a device is the removable cartridge magnetic disk drive, where it is quite easy to use dozens of cartridges if necessary to cover several different applications or many different projects.
Myrica is Europe's only company specialising in the development of removable cartridge magnetic disk drives, and will support VITEC in the development of their codecs by producing an external high-capacity storage subsystem optimised for VITEC's target MPEG-2 video acquisition applications.
As an example of one possible application for the tools being developed within the project, Myrica will also produce a demonstration system for premastering of the new high density Digital Versatile Disks (DVDs), a potentially huge emerging market.T
Exploitation of the results of the project is foremost in the minds of the partners - indeed the driving force behind their involvement - and will occur in a number of ways, through each partners' existing global distribution channels.
VITEC sells its range of multimedia products world-wide through computer distributors, multimedia VARs, system integrators and OEMs. In 1995, over 50% of the turnover was generated outside the EU - mainly in Asia.
At the end of the VIPER project, two main products will be industrialised by VITEC:
- a low cost, high performance, MPEG-2 compression system for PCs - the codec board
- an MPEG-2 single chip VLSI codec - the VLSI
The codec boards will be sold through their distribution channels, VARs and system integrators, whilst the VLSI will be sold to third party manufacturers and OEMs.
As the project moves into its exploitation phase, Myrica intends to pursue its existing partnership strategy, whereby manufacturing of the cartridges and subsystems is subcontracted to Nomaï in France and Xyratex in the UK. Their marketing focus will be to offer products that can compete in two particular types of video applications:
- digital video acquisition
- DVD premastering
Myrica will first market the storage subsystem and cartridges through the well-established channels of its parent company, Nomaï, but it will also use the competitive advantage built from its collaboration with VITEC to penetrate other vertical market niches, such as through manufacturers of video and multimedia editing stations, and in the booming new 'Video Server' market. Each market will need specific technical and marketing work because each one will require partnership in combining storage know-how with other key components. Etensive work on distribution will be undertaken, as not every market will use similar distribution.
Funding SchemeCSC - Cost-sharing contracts
KY6 2DA Glenrothes