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Cast has developed a reference design system targeted at electronic system design engineers who need to understand and evaluate H.264 video encoding quickly and cost effectively.

Cast’s H.264 video encoding reference design system combines multiple hardware functions and essential software in a pre-integrated, documented package.

It is available now, running in either Altera or XIlinx FPGAs on commercial prototyping boards.

At the heart of the system is the H264-E Encoder Core developed by Alma Technologies.

This core produces high-quality compressed video at up to 1080p resolution and 30 frames per second.

It uses an efficient baseline profile architecture and processes video with less latency and fewer hardware resources than many competing cores, said Cast.

The H264-REF system also includes a PCI Express Endpoint Controller Core, an H.264 Multimedia Interface Core and an appropriate DDR Memory Controller Core.

Custom H264-REF software offers a graphical user interface (GUI) that can be used to control H.264 encoding parameters such as the target quality level or a constant bit rate requirement.

The GUI also helps manage workflow details such as input and output clip specification.

The system includes additional drivers and other software to make it ready to run as delivered.

The cores are implemented in either Altera or Xilinx FPGA systems: the Altera Stratix IV GX FPGA development kit includes a fast-grade Stratix IV silicon device and the V5 TAI Logic Module Virtual FPGA prototyping system from S2C includes a fast Virtex-5 device.

A Jpeg 2000 reference design system will soon join the H264-REF, using the same platform to bring similar evaluation and analysis benefits to this complex image compression standard.

To see a live demonstration of the H264-REF system, visit Cast on booth 521 at the Design Automation Conference in Anaheim, California, from 13-15 June 2010.

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