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Processor brings 3D to photography, videos

Posted: 26 Nov 2010     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:3D  image processing  video compression  camera 

Low power consumption is also touted as a hallmark of Ambarella's digital camera solutions. Combined with S3D vide pre-processor with A5 and DDR3 memory, power consumption is approximately 1W, according to Day. The combination of S3D, A7 and DDR3 memory consumes about 1.5 W, he added.

Thus far, Ambarella's focus has been on the digital video camera market, rather than DSCs whose market Zoran dominates. As more digital still cameras add HD video recording capabilities, the boundaries between the two have already begun blurring, creating an opportunity for Ambarella to enter the DSC market. But that said, Zoran is a formidable competitor. Zoran, who claims its camera SoC solutions are installed in hundreds of millions of digital cameras, announced last month that the new COACH 12 family of digital video processors is "powering a host of new HD camcorders under well-known brands, including wireless Internet connected and 3D video camera models."

3D video market forecast
But it still remains to be seen how big a "nice-to-have" feature 3D video/image capturing might become on the digital video camera market of the future.

Chris Chute, research manager at IDC, estimated that 250,000 digital cameras featuring 3D (with two lens assemblies for capturing stereoscopic images and video) will have shipped in 2010. That number "will grow to around 6 million [60 lakh] units in 2014, or five per cent of the digital camera market," he projected. IDC's numbers only cover cameras—not camcorders, according to Chute.

He added, "Right now, Fujifilm is the only vendor supporting this segment, although there are others in the camcorder space." Those offering 3D-equipped camcorders include Panasonic, Aiptek of Taiwan and Viewsonic, according to Michelle Abraham, principal analyst at In-Stat.

Asked about the most important elements for 3D cameras, Chute pointed out "the ability to view content instantly on the device via auto stereoscopic LCD. This feature is an absolute requirement." He then added, "Also important is the ability to view on other displays." However, he called it also "an inhibitor," since 3D TV shipments remain quite small and the requirement to wear glasses is also an inhibitor.

Abraham, on the other hand, noted that "price will be important as it always is in consumer products." She added, "Video quality will be [important] as well especially with some consumers saying 3D gives them headaches or nausea. The better the quality the less likely that is to happen."

Ambarella today has a working chip of S3D, whose volume production starts in Q1 2011.

Junko Yoshida
EE Times

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