Finland-based Hantro has made further advances in the mobile video market with its new H.264 hardware accelerated video decoder. The technology can be implemented into regular consumer mobile handsets and promises to enable a dramatic improvement in the quality of video clips.
Hantro’s H.264 player runs on Series 60-powered handsets and is based on the 6100 software decoder and PlayEngine middleware. Running on a Nokia 7610 handset, full-screen video is capable of being played back at a resolution of 208×176 pixels (supports resolutions up to 720×576 pixels) at up to 15 frames-per-second. Unfortunately, the frame rate is still half of that of standard video playback, but it provides an important step forward in the development cycle of technology that will soon become standard on all phones.
H.264 is the latest video coding standard for improved compression over existing standards, such as MPEG-4 and H.263. With comparable bitrates, the increase in visual quality is significant, according to the company, which also means that you can maintain acceptable video quality (comparable to MPEG-4) with up to a 50 per cent reduction in file size. This makes the application ideally suited for wireless transmissions as it expands the potential of applications such as streaming video to mobile over GPRS, video downloads and mobile TV.
For instance, with improved transmission speed and playback quality, businesses could leverage their marketing to potential customers by sending short video clips instead of SMS alerts. By adhering to the existing file size limitations for MMS, the improved compression ratios should allow for approximately twice the length of video clip at the same visual quality to that of MPEG-4.
The software’s multimedia engine provides a high level API for fast application development, a completely modular design, support for both hardware and software MPEG-4/H.263 video codecs, as well as GSM-AMR speech and AAC audio encoding/decoding. Compatible with 3GPP streaming protocols (RTP/RTCP/RTSP/SDP), its core modules and application logic are OS independent, and are therefore easily ported to numerous operating systems and devices, if multimedia APIs are available. It can also encode 4-megapixel JPEG still images, which will further appeal to manufacturers of battery-operated handheld devices.
“We are very pleased with the performance that we have achieved with this product”, said Sami Niska, Product Manager, Hantro. “This software implementation clearly demonstrates the capability of H.264. By providing a short time-to-market, the 6100 software decoder is an ideal solution for device manufacturers and network operators looking to leverage the immediate potential of applications made possible by this new coding standard.”
Decoding H.264 with general purpose microprocessors and digital signal processors (DSPs) is much more complex than that of existing video standards, which can lead to trade-offs in supported image sizes and power management. To overcome this problem, Hantro has also developed silicon designs which, once integrated into a chip, support higher resolutions and will reduce power consumption considerably when compared to software implementations.