1080p at 60 fps on the cheap? No problem

Chip-maker Stretch purports to push the envelop on price and performance
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Friday, August 13, 2010

SUNNYVALE, Calif. - With its brand-new S7000 family of microchips, Stretch claims it can now deliver four times the performance of its most recently released chip set, while charging the same price.

What's that mean for the average security system installer?

"The price per channel just got cut by a factor of four,' said Mark Oliver, Stretch's director of product marketing. "This will result in the lowest cost-per-channel DVRs that you can get out there.' A DVR maker will now be able to process 16 channels of standard definition video with just a single processor.

Or, he said, you can put one of these chips in an IP camera and deliver 60 frames per second of 1080p H.264 compression with just a single processor, which will have enough horsepower left over to run an operating system that might include video analytics.

This should result, said Oliver, in a "very low barrier to entry for HD IP cameras.' Once Stretch releases all of the reference designs for cameras that will accompany their new chips, "they can take that design and get to market extremely quickly.'

Stretch has not yet announced any manufacturing partners, and many manufacturers choose not to announce what chip maker they use, but users of the company's S6000 line of processors include Everfocus, IntelliVision, Agilence, and Lanner.

Oliver said to expect products demonstrating the capabilities of the S7000 at the ASIS show, and to see products with these kinds of capabilities at affordable prices by the end of the year.

So, how has Stretch delivered four times the performance without having to charge more? Is this just Mohr's Law at work? Oliver said that was part of it, but "we've done it a little differently than other people do it. Other companies would increase the top speed, and just make things go faster, which is more power hungry and hotter. We accelerate the technology by making custom instructions in the processor ... It just eats up algorithms better.' Thus, he said, "the power needed actually went down ... The S7000 is actually cooler than the S6000 was.'

So, joked this reporter, it delivers 1080p at 60 frames per second, and does it by way of secret sauce. Does it make popcorn, too?

"No, no,' Oliver quickly rejoined. "It doesn't make popcorn. It runs cool.'