Group Active Imaging Ltd, Maidenhead, Berkshire, has been formed to develop and sell imaging products: it encompasses the existing companies, Data Cell Ltd, T-cubed Ltd and Omnix Co. The new group has 50 members of staff. Data Cell, also in Maidenhead, is a UK supplier of imaging software, both its own and from other companies; […]
Group Active Imaging Ltd, Maidenhead, Berkshire, has been formed to develop and sell imaging products: it encompasses the existing companies, Data Cell Ltd, T-cubed Ltd and Omnix Co. The new group has 50 members of staff. Data Cell, also in Maidenhead, is a UK supplier of imaging software, both its own and from other companies; Leatherhead, Surrey-based T-cubed is an engineering developer and was recently acquired by the group for an unknown sum; and Omnix, in Incline Village, Nevada, which has imaging products similar to Data Cell’s, will operate as the group’s North American base. Data Cell’s managing director, John Osborne, moves to the US to become Omnix’s chief executive and David Slorach becomes managing director of Active Imaging Ltd, the company that will be responsible for the supply side of the group and be in control of Data Cell. Data Cell has has just signed a deal with Billerica, Massachusetts-based General Imaging Corp to resell its signal imaging process technology. The company has developed an object-oriented programming environment, ProtoPipe, that is claimed to design, develop, debug and deploy imaging software. The company said users can take any part of an application, or even an entire appliction, developed by ProtoPipe, shrink it to an icon and put in a library for later use. There are also off-the-shelf libraries that can be used to develop applications. The hardware is Texas Instruments Inc’s TMS320C80 chip, which the company has worked on for 18 months; its version is called the SIP80. The company described it as giving users a Cray in a briefcase when it came to image processing. The C80 has four 32-bit, parallel processors and one RISC master processor, and, said the company, is capable of 2,000m operations a second.
It is available as an Sbus at the moment and will be converted for PCI and VME operations. The main drawback with the SIP80 is that it is highly complex and would take an experienced digital signal processor at least a year to master. So the company has given it an Application Development System, which works with ProtoPipe, and hides all the technology behind a graphical interface. ADS is really for lower level programming whereas ProtoPipe has been designed for signal and image processing. It forms part of a product called MegaPipe, a scalable image processor, which the company said is unlike any other board out there: it has no bus and the entire motherboard acts as the backplane. There is an embedded Ethernet connect for small amounts of data to get in and out but the cross point switch, which has 32 by 32 channels, any one of which can talk to any other of the channels, which gives into an input-output bandwidth of greater than 4Gbps. The channels can work either synchronously or asynchronously. The company said it has plans for a 64 by 64 cross point switch. The board can also take up to 15 daughter cards, the first three being a display, video digitiser and a TMS320C80. Others will be a Fibre Channel interconnect, a Sharc for floating point capability and a neural network. The board can also be stacked for even more power. All this costs $150,000 which the firm said is the kind of price breakthrough seen when personal computers dropped to $2,000 from $12,000. Data Cell will sell ProtoPipe, MegaPipe, Sip80 the kernal for C80 and the libraries in the UK; there are separate deals for Europe and Australasia. General Imaging’s products are in beta test and will be available in the spring of next year.