Intel Corp reports that its Princeton operation has developed real-time video compression to will enable multimedia application software developers and personal computer users to compress video footage in real time, and to play it back immediately at full speed and on the whole screen of a computer. The new software, RTV, real-time video, version 1.5, […]
Intel Corp reports that its Princeton operation has developed real-time video compression to will enable multimedia application software developers and personal computer users to compress video footage in real time, and to play it back immediately at full speed and on the whole screen of a computer. The new software, RTV, real-time video, version 1.5, will be available from first quarter 1990 in a new Intel chip set. RTV 1.5 means that motion video can, in a symmetrical process, be captured, compressed and played back in real-time at 30 frames per second. The new version of RTV uses a new software compression algorithm running on the i750 chip set.
30 frames a second
Version 1 of RTV, which began shipping in April 1988, ran at 10 frames per second. This new version will ship in the first quarter of 1990 and will be provided as a free software upgrade to users of the Pro750 application development system. The current generation of DVI video processors, i750, is capable of approximately 12.5 MIPS, while the new processor will be twice as powerful. It is expected that the third generation of video chips will be five times more powerful than the second generation. The chips are programmable which means that the application developer can control various aspects of the compressed video or graphics. For example, the processor can be programmed to reduce an application’s data rate or to improve image quality. It can also be programmed to give the power required by the size of the video image to be compressed, as well as for the required image update rate – this being the rate at which the image on the screen changes or updates from one frame to the next – although it is recommended that a frame rate of 30 per second is adopted since this gives a near video cassette recorder-quality picture. Finally, the developer can also specify what amount of the whole available performance is to be used for video decompression – the data rate, image size and frame rate – and this will vary from application to application. For example, in a teleconferencing application the total processing power would be required for decompression, whereas in an interactive CD-ROM application, only half the processing power may be required leaving the other half free to manipulate the video in real time, draw graphics in parallel and so on. Application developers using Intel’s DVI technology have two options as to how to achieve video compression: first of all, at a development level, RTV enables programmers to compress video in real-time in the Pro750 application development system or any DVI system equipped with the video capture option. This is useful for applications such as networking and electronic mail where a quick turnaround is of the essence. It is also of use for video notes in applications such as spreadsheets and business presentations.
By Katy Ring
Another appropriate area for its use is training and educational applications where instant visual feedback and analysis can prove instrumental in the learning process. Indeed, Andersen Consulting’s Change Management Services division swears by RTV 1.0, which it uses in personal computer video applications to analyse productivity and accelerate learning curves. Consulting manager of the division, Ziegler, sees a plethora of settings in which RTV might be useful, saying, imagine being able to match your own golf swing to Arnold Palmer’s, for example. Secondly, RTV can be used as a tool to develop new applications, segments of which can then be replaced with production level video processed offline at Intel on a more powerful parallel-processing computer. In the future, Intel can foresee a time when an offline compression function will be available on the developer’s desktop giving higher image quality on-site. Through such products Intel is hoping to standardise Digital Video Interactive, DVI, technology. As the technology develops, Intel is focussing its development skills on the commercial, government, school and home markets across training, design, information, education and entertainment
applications. While multi-media techniques are already used in training, Intel points out that as DVI uses a standard CD-ROM format so that it doesn’t suffer from a lack of device interfaces making it easy to port applications. In particular Intel sees the new technology as widening the training market within medicine and defence. In design it offers a less expensive personal computer-based alternative to video production and graphics computer systems. For example, an architectural designer can display a realistic representation of a building without having to build a physical model, making it easier to evaluate different designs and building materials. Capitalising on its inexpensive personal computer-based approach, DVI is expected to boom in commercial and domestic information facilities as well as in home entertainment. For example, DVI’s capabilities are currently being explored in a pilot application Design and Decorate co-developed with Videodisc Publishing Inc of New York. Using this application, customers in furniture stores can design their own living room, selecting size and shape, furniture, paint and wall coverings comparing and contrasting them with fabric coverings and room accessories. The room can be viewed from a variety of angles and changed on command – the commercial hook being that catalogue information is available on-line about the store’s available furniture and fabrics.
Another possible application which estate agents everywhere won’t be happy about is the way the technology can be used to show a motion video of properties, giving the prospective buyer control of a 360o panoramic view of the location. Aside from curbing the adjectival excesses of estate agents DVI is also tipped, by Intel, to revolutionise education by enabling the student to direct her own learning process rather than being a passive recipient. However, whether navigating your own idiosyncratic way round predetermined information in a multi-media database is a great improvement over asking teacher is debatable – at least good teachers admit their fallibility and knowledge limitations. Such quibbles aside, however, Intel is ploughing ahead with its implementation of DVI and is scheduled to announce RTV version 2 at the beginning of 1991 which will offer VCR image quality, while a version 3 should arrive in 1992, promised to be almost be up to TV image resolution.