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Linux-driven encoder board supports 4K H.265/HEVC

Aug 5, 2021 — by Eric Brown 1,821 views

Z3’s “Z3-Q603-RPS” encoder board runs Linux on Qualcomm’s quad-core QCS603 and encodes up to 4K H.265/HEVC and H.264 video with micro-HDMI in/out, Composite-in, GbE, COM, and KEL ports for Sony 4K and LVDS HD cameras.

The last time we checked in on Z3 Technology was back in 2013 when the Lincoln, Nebraska based company launched a Z3-DM8168-APP-3x video transcoding subsystem built around a TI DaVinci SoC. The company offers a variety of camera solutions, video encoding boards, and “Zeus” video encoding systems that run Linux on low-end Arm SoCs. Z3 broke with its tradition of not disclosing the various Cortex-A8 or -A9 based processors in its products when it launched the Z3-Q603-RPS, which features Qualcomm’s AI-enabled, quad-core QCS603 camera SoC.

The 50 x 40 x 38mm Z3-Q603-RPS boardset, which appears to comprise 3x PCBs, integrates on-board connectors for embedded cameras and enables up to 4K H.265/HEVC, H.264, and MJPEG encoding. The encoder system is also touted for its low latency, multi-stream support, Zizi Feeder support, and Pan Tilt Zoom (PTZ) capability.


(click image to enlarge)

Applications for the battery-ready system include UAVs, drones, inspection device, medical diagnostics, remote monitoring and security, videoconferencing, and other embedded video streaming and recording jobs. The encoder supports “ruggedized embedded video applications [that] need video with timestamp or GPS coordinates, or in a UAV setting where the camera needs to be remotely controlled via IP,” stated Z3 CEO Aaron Caldwell.

The Z3-Q603-RPS can input video via micro-HDMI 1.4 (with audio), Composite, and dual KEL micro-coaxial inputs: one for an LVDS HD camera and one for an up to Sony 4Kp30 camera. The Sony testimonial quote below mentions support for two of Sony’s industrial zoom block cameras. One is an up to 2160p60 FCB-EW9500H with a 4.17-megapixel, 1/1.8-type Starvis CMOS sensor and support for 30x optical zoom. There is also a 2.1MP, 1080p60 FCB-EV9500M camera with 30x zoom. The quote says the cameras can go to 50x zoom:

“Z3’s new encoder ideally makes use of Sony’s latest industrial zoom camera blocks, including the new FCB-EW9500H and FCB-EV9500M devices, offering up to 50x Enhanced Optical Zoom with sophisticated, multi-axis image stabilization,” stated John Monti, Director of Visual Imaging Solutions, Sony Electronics.

Z3-Q603-RPS block diagram (left) and optional Sony FCB-EW9500H
(click images to enlarge)

Qualcomm’s QCS603 SoC, which we saw on Microsoft’s 8MP, 4K Vision AI Developer Kit, comprises 2x 1.7GHz and 2x 1.6GHz Cortex-A55-like Kryo 300 CPU cores. The SoC is further equipped with Adreno 615 graphics, a Hexagon 685 DSP with Hexagon vector extensions (“HVX”), and a Spectra 270 ISP. All these chips support the Qualcomm AI Engine built around the Qualcomm Snapdragon Neural Processing Engine (NPE) software framework.

No RAM or flash details were listed for the Z3-Q603-RPS. There is an unstated amount of bootable NAND storage in addition to a microSD slot.

The boardset is further equipped with micro-HDMI 1.4 output, GbE, and micro-USB console ports plus RS-232, RS485, and UART interfaces. You also get 802.11ac with Bluetooth 5.0.

Power input options include a USB Type-C port, a 12VDC input, and a 1-cell Li-Ion battery connector and charger. Typical power consumption runs at 5.5W. The system weighs 43 grams, which expands to 81 grams with the possibly optional heat pipe.

A Q603-RPS starter kit adds a power supply, various cables, and a Linux SDK, which includes U-Boot, root filesystem, toolchain, and NAND boot and programming support. There is also an HTTP-based control interface offering control of parameters including resolution, max bitrate, GOP, and on-the-fly bitrate control.

In addition to the web GUI, the system can be controlled via serial/SSH, an API, or ONVIF. The US-manufactured system is said to be compliant with ONVIF Profile S & T and the US National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

The Z3-Q603-RPS, which we saw on EENews Embedded, offers video output in RTP, RTSP, MPEG-2 TS over UDP, RTMP, TSRTP, MPTS and TS File formats. There is also support for HE-AAC, HEv2-AAC, and AAC-LC audio codecs.

Further information

No pricing or availability information was provided for the Z3-Q603-RPS. More information may be found in Z3 Technology’s announcement and product page.

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2 responses to “Linux-driven encoder board supports 4K H.265/HEVC”

  1. David Jashi says:

    “The boardset is further equipped with … RS-232, RS485, and UART interfaces. … It is unclear how one would attach the GPS device mentioned in the Z3 quote.”
    What exactly is not clear here? Seems fairly obvious.

  2. Jeff Child, Editor in Chief, Linuxgizmos says:

    You make a good point! So, upon further thought, we removed the statement. Many thanks for your comment!

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