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Video transcoding system runs Linux on DaVinci SOC

Apr 18, 2013 — by Eric Brown 2,958 views

Z3 Technology has introduced a video transcoding subsystem based on a new Texas Instruments TMS320DM8269 DaVinci system-on-chip (SOC). The FPGA-enabled Z3-DM8169-MCVI-RPS targets 1080p/H.264 video processing requirements in applications such as broadcast video encoding and decoding, real-time transcoding at 60fps, security and surveillance, video conferencing, and industrial video processing equipment.

The Z3-DM8169-MCVI-RPS subsystem’s hardware consists of the company’s Z3-DM8169-MOD-2x computer-on-module (COM), on which the TI SOC resides, plugged into a video transcoding baseboard (shown below). Z3 (pronounced “Z-cubed”) refers to this hardware subsystem, when combined with its embedded Linux SDK (software development kit), as a “Rapid Product design System” (RPS).


Z3-DM8168-APP-3x COM baseboard
(click image to enlarge)

According to Z3, the 108 x 88mm Z3-DM8169-MOD-2x COM enables H.264 encoding, decoding, and transcoding in all resolutions from QCIF to 1080p/i 60, with either single-channel (VI-RPS) or multichannel (MCVI-RPS) capacity. The multichannel-ready Z3-DM8169-MCVI-RPS is said to support simultaneous H.264+AAC encoding from 3GSDI + HDMI, 3GSDI + Component or HDMI + Component inputs.

Z3-DM8169-MOD-2x video processing COM
(click image to enlarge)

The Z3 video processing COM contains 1GB of DDR3 RAM and 256MB of flash memory. (No clock rate for its TI SOC is listed.) The COM also natively supports a gigabit Ethernet port, dual USB 2.0 host ports, RS232 and SATA2 ports, and YPbPr output and composite video with stereo analog audio output. Other I/O passes through the 108 x 88mm COM’s custom, five-connector expansion interface (see block diagram and spec list below). No details were provided on power or temperature range, but the module appears to be available with a fan.

TI’s DaVinci ARM+DSP SOCs have long been a favorite for video equipment, ranging from surveillance to encoding systems. The DaVinci TMS320DM8269 used in Z3’s new product line is a new version of the TI TMS320DM8168 SOC. TI has yet to post information on it, but according to a newsletter from Kane Computing (pdf file), the DM8169 advances to a faster Cortex-A8 core (1.35GHz up from 1.2GHz), and speeds up the TI C674x DSP from 1GHz to 1.125GHz. It also adds several coprocessors, including a new Transport Processing SubSystem (TPPSS), which Kane says “is the only processor capable of running the new TI Netra-Vi ‘TruView” broadcast quality H.264 Encoder.”

The Z3-DM8169-VI-RPS and hardware-identical Z3-DM8169-MCVI-RPS systems combine the module with a baseboard that includes an unidentified FPGA (field programmable gate array). The FPGA acts as an intermediary between many of the Z3-DM8169-MOD-2x’s expansion pins and the baseboard’s real-world I/O ports for ASI, 3G/SDI out and digital audio in. Meanwhile, ports that interact directly with the COM include inputs for 3G-SDI, YPbPr, audio, and HDMI. The baseboard also includes a power supply.

The block diagrams of both the COM and baseboard appear below.

Block diagrams the RPS’s COM (left) and baseboard
(click images to enlarge)

Specifications listed for the Z3-DM8169-MOD-2x include:

  • Processor — TMS320DM8269 DaVinci processor (up to 1.35GHz ARM-Cortex A8; up to 1.125GHz DSP)
  • Memory — 1GB DDR3 RAM, 256MB flash
  • Real-world ports:
    • Gigabit Ethernet
    • 2x USB 2.0 host
    • RS232
    • SATA2
    • YPbPr /composite video
  • Expansion interfaces:
    • Gigabit Ethernet
    • 2x USB
    • GMII, GPMC
    • Digital video in/out
    • Analog video out
    • SATA
    • PCI Express
    • MPEG-2 Transport Stream
    • 3x UARTs
    • SDIO
    • McBSP, MCard
    • I2C, SPI

The Z3-DM8169-VI-RPS baseboard video system integrates the Z3-DM8169-MOD-2x, including all real-world ports, plus the following I/O:

  • 3G HD-SDI in/out
  • ASI (1 x in/2x out)
  • YPbPr in
  • HDMI in
  • 2x analog stereo audio in

Both the COM and the full baseboard versions ship with a Linux 2.6 software development kit (SDK), complete with u-boot, root file-system, tool chain, and a flash programming tool. In addition, the products provide pre-loaded Z3 encoder and decoder applications, EZSDK, and the OpenMAX-IL framework. Also available is TI’s TruView H.264 codec and MPEG-2 encode/decode software. Additional multichannel software is available with the Z3-DM8169-MCVI-RPS version. Design services and support are said to be optional.

Z3 DM8169 Linux software stack
(click images to enlarge)

The Z3-DM8169-MOD-2x module, as well as the Z3-DM8169-VI-RPS and Z3-DM8169-MCVI-RPS baseboard video systems are available now at an unstated price. More information may be found on the Z3-DM8169-MOD-2x product page, as well as the Z3-DM8169-VI-RPS product page.

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