High resolution still and video capture – the future of photography

Ambarella Introduces New Chip for Simultaneous Capturing High Resolution Stills and HD Video for Hybrid Cameras

What follows is a press release. Consider the implications of this chip development. Simultaneous high resolution still image capture while HD video is captured as well. There are many applications of this beyond just a hybrid still/video camera.

Press Release

Ambarella, Inc., a leader in low-power, high- definition video
compression and image processing semiconductors, has introduced the
A390, a system-on-a-chip (SoC) that simultaneously captures 8Mpixels
still pictures while generating and compressing high-definition (HD)
video in either 1080p60 or 1080i60 formats. The device stores still
images in either RAW or compressed formats, implementing the JPEG
standard at a rate of one picture per second without interrupting full
HD-video recording. Working at a data capture rate as fast as
480Mpixels-per-second, the A390’s speed exceeds 60 frames-per-second
at 8Mpixels. The A390 SoC is the third member in the A3 SoC platform
series targeted at hybrid cameras and supports the emerging H.264 AVC
video standard.

“Ambarella’s A390 combines the best of still photography and HD
video recording,” stated Les Kohn, Ambarella chief technology officer.
“Consumers will be able to capture both still photos and HD video at
the same instant reaching new levels of quality and product
flexibility.”

Full Sensor Resolution Video Capture

The A390 captures data as fast as 480Mpixels/s, which is a rate in
excess of 60 frames per second at 8 Mpixels. As is common in digital
still cameras (DSC) and in most HD camcorders, a single color filter
array sensor (Bayer RGB) generates red, green and blue (RGB) primary
colors. The A390 converts data from Bayer pattern to RGB (called
de-mosaicing) at a very high rate, resulting in a virtually
artifact-free and full-resolution video signal. This kind of
processing is more accurate in terms of clean edges with no Bayer
artifacts than the simple binning combination of adjacent pixels
commonly used in many camcorders. The A390 yields a higher-resolution
output than the extrapolative techniques used with three sensors (3
CCD).

HD Hybrid Camera SoC and Progressive Video

The A390 HD chip enables the development of full high-resolution
cameras at the highest-image quality with smooth 60 frames/second
video and simultaneous recording of high resolution stills.
Ambarella’s A390 integrates an H.264 codec capable of encoding full
1080p60 at 1920 pixels per line resolution – 124,416,000 pixels per
second.

JPEG and Loss-less RAW compression

The A390 integrates an advanced high-performance image-processing
pipeline, still image compression using both loss-less (RAW) and
loss-y (JPEG) formats, audio compression and all key system functions.

The programmability of the Ambarella platform enables
implementation of multiple formats for HD video, such as the AVCHD
specification for 1080i HD camcorders, as well as many formats
commonly used on personal computing platforms.

Motion Compensated 3D Noise Reduction

Depending on the amount of light available, imaging sensors can
have a substantial amount of noise, and filtering this noise is
critical for producing high-quality images. The challenge of a
full-resolution HD camcorder is to reduce the noise without causing a
loss of resolution or a loss of detail, so advanced spatio-temporal
(3D) filters must be used. Most available solutions are motion
adaptive and switch from a predominantly temporal to a predominantly
spatial filter based on detecting the presence of motion. Because
Ambarella’s A390 SoC is motion compensated instead of just motion
adaptive, it truly tracks the motion and uses motion compensation in
the filter.

3D Image Registration: a Novel Approach to Low Light Photography

The high capture rate of the A390 – as high as 480Mpixels/sec –
allows a new approach to low-light photography. Instead of capturing a
single image in low light with a long exposure that results in a
blurry picture, the A390 captures image sequences with short
exposures. This approach combines, or registers, multiple images
within the sequence to create a sharp, low-noise picture. This is the
still-image equivalent of motion compensated 3D noise reduction.

Pricing and availability

The Ambarella A390 SOC is designed for hybrid cameras. The A3
platform is available in multiple configurations for various
requirements. Evaluation kits for both products are available now from
Ambarella, along with pricing information.

About Ambarella

Ambarella is the technology leader in low-power, high-definition
video compression and image processing semiconductors. Ambarella
products are helping to define a new class of hybrid digital cameras
that bring consumers unmatched high definition video and digital still
images together in one device. Many cameras and camcorders have been
shipping using Ambarella A2 SOC. For more information on the Ambarella
product line, please visit http://www.ambarella.com.

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