Category Archives: Video

How 3D Accelerators Work

A 3D accelerator, more popularly known as the Graphics Processing Unit (GPU), is a specialized graphics device accompanying workstations, game consoles, and personal computers.

The 3D Accelerator’s Composition

The GPU attached to the graphics card makes a mechanism used to calculate floating-point resources. These graphic accelerators slipped into microchips with special mathematical processes helps in the effective and efficient rendering of graphics. GPU also applies to graphics utilities with basic operations.

3D Accelerators Today

With the rise of OpenGL API and similar functions in DirectX, GPU programs proliferated to adapt to the advancing needs of the consumers. Short programs on screen can now process pixels and input image textures by manipulating the geometric vertices. Eventually, they led to the introduction of NVIDIA, containing the first chip capable of program shading. Shortly after, in October 2002, Radeon 9700 and ATI were created.

Parallel GPUs today begun the creation of computational inroads that contradict those usually used by the CPU.

3D Accelerator’s Computational Functions

GPUs today use transistors that perform calculations related to 3D graphics. They initially boost memory-intensive work in texture mapping and in the rendering of polygons. This process adds units to boost calculations, as with the rotation and vertex translations into several coordinate systems.

More recent developments include support of programmable shaders used to manipulate textures and vertices with the same operations that support CPUs. They also manage interpolation techniques and oversampling. They also have a high precision for color spaces. Most computations now involve vector and matrix operations.

3D hardware today also contains the basic 2D frame buffer capabilities and its accelerations. Most of these devices support hardware overlays and YUV color spacing essential for the playback of digital videos. GPUs made in the year 2000 support MPEG formats, like motion compensation and iDCT.

DVI

Digital Visual Interface (DVI) is a widespread mode of video-interface technology that optimizes flat-panel Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) monitors and newer graphics cards. Replacing Plub-and-Display technology, DVI is an evolution of the Digital Flat Panel (DFP) standard for old flat panel screens.

Digital signals sent to an analog monitor are converted into analog by using a DVI connector and a port. A flat-panel digital monitor needs no conversion due to built-in DVI connections with most monitors in the market. Video card companies have contributed to the increasing popularity of DVI cables. They now manufacture cards that include ports for Video Graphics Array (VGA) and DVI output.

Types of DVI Connections

  • DVI-D (True Digital Video) – In DVI-D, cables directly connect the source video (such as video cards) and digital LCD monitors. The nature of this digital standard offers an image of higher quality in comparison to analog. Video cards initially create digital signals transformed into analog signals at the VGA output. The analog signals are transmitted to the monitor and then converted back to digital. DVI-D enhances the connection of the source and the display and omits the process of analog conversion.
  • DVI-A (High-resolution Analog) – In DVI-A, cables transmit a DVI signal to an analog display such as CRT monitors or budget LCDs. Due to carrying the same signal, DVI-A is commonly linked to a VGA device. A digital signal should be present whenever possible because quality loss occurs in the digital-to-analog conversion.
  • DVI-I – In DVI-I, integrated cables can transmit a digital source signal to a digital display, or an analog source signal to an analog display. This makes the DVI-I connection highly versatile.

Like other formats, analog and DVI are not interchangeable. A DVI-D cable will not function in an analog system. A DVI-A will not work in a digital system. A VGA to DVI-D converter will link an analog source to a digital display, while a DVI-D to VGA converter will connect a digital source to an analog display.

For more information on DVI read:

  • DVI
  • DVI
  • AVI

    AVI, or Audio Video Interleave, is a type of multimedia file format. AVI files can include audio and video data within a particular file container. This enables AVI files to support synchronized audio-video playback. Microsoft developed the AVI file format, originally created for the company’s Video for Windows standard.

    This file format is supported by all versions of Windows Media Player, including Windows Media Player 7, Windows Media Player for XP, and Windows Media Player 11. Winamp and RealPlayer also support AVI files.

    AVI is believed to be one of the most common video file formats in Windows computers. Audio and/or video content compressed using any of the available codecs can be stored within an AVI file.

    Video Codecs

    There are several video codecs used to create AVI files. These include:

    • DivX Codec;
    • Indeo codec;
    • MJPEG codec; and
    • Cinepak codec.

    Audio Codecs

    Similarly, there are several audio codecs used in AVI files. These include:

    • Uncompressed Pulse Code Modulation codec or PCM codec; and
    • Mp3 codec.

    With the use of specific software, AVI files can be converted to other video file formats such as MPEG, MOV(QuickTime) and ASF.

    AVI files can be downloaded from the Internet. There are certain sites enabling visitors to download AVI files and view video content such as movies, TV shows, and music videos. Some online sources offer this service for free while others require payment.

    DVR

    A DVR, or a Digital Video Recorder, is a device that lets the user record programs, movies, and other forms of videos on his computer. A DVR uses a hard drive to capture and store these videos. This is in contrast to a VCR, which uses video tapes to record videos.

    A DVR provides a general recording interface consisting of menus. Through this environment, users can enter information, such as the TV channel where the program will be aired as well as the time and date when it will be shown. Before the DVR can display the menus for the said settings, it first has to be connected to the Internet.

    A DVR presents a set of unique advantages. The image outputs of digital video recorders are significantly clearer than those produced by analog recorders. This digital device has features to pause, rewind, and fast-forward a live television show. A DVR also allows the user to search for specific shows he wishes to watch and record. He can even select the scene that he wants to capture. There are certain types of DVRs that enable the user to watch the first part of a show while the record captures the latter part. Also, a DVR lets users easily archive their videos by transferring them to DVDs or CDs.

    Similar to other recording technologies, a DVR has a set of drawbacks. The user always has to have a large amount of hard disk space when he is using a DVR. Most DVRs also do not support High-Definition Television (HDTV) broadcasts. When a DVR is connected to an HDTV, the recorder will capture and display programs only in standard definition.

    DisplayPort

    What is DisplayPort?

    DisplayPort is a digital interface standard. It was approved by the Video Electronics Standards Association (VESA) in April 2007. It is a license-free, royalty-free, digital audio/video connector.

    DisplayPort’s primary function is to send video and audio signals from a computer to a computer monitor or a home theater system. It allows the user to easily make a direct connection from a computer to an entertainment center system, while increasing audio and video performance.

    DisplayPort Technical Specifications

    8B/10B

    8.64 Gbit/s forward link channel supports high resolution monitors of:

    • up to 2560×1600 with single cable; signal degradation begins after 10 feet
    • data transmission of up to 2.7 GHz
    • symbol rate of up to 4 lanes, 8B/10B modulation
    • color depth of 6, 8, 10, 12 and 16 bits per component
    • full transmission of signals over a cable length of 3 meters or 10 feet
    • 128-bit Advance Inscription Standard
    • DisplayPort Content Protection (DPC)
    • High-band with Digital Protection content from version 1.1 onwards

    It supports both external (box-to-box) and internal (laptop LCD panel) display connections.

    The DisplayPort connector supports blind connection by feeling.

    DisplayPort’s Competitors

    • HDMI

    features HDCP copy protection and defacto digital connection for high-definition consumer electronics devices

    • Unified Display Interface

    an inexpensive option, which is compatible with both HDMI and DVI

    DisplayPort’s Supporters

    Several companies have expressed their support for DisplayPort, some of which are: Dell, Genesis Microchip, Intel, Lenovo, Philips, Samsung, Analogix, NVIDIA, ASRock, Hosiden Corporation, Hewlett-Packard, Integrated Device Technology, JAE, Luxtera, Parade,
    Technologies, Molex, NXP Semiconductors, Palit Microsystems, Quantum Data, Texas Instruments, and Tyco Electronics.

    DisplayPort’s Advantages Over HDMI (High Definition Multimedia Interface)

    HDMI is considered to be one of the industry’s top standards in transferring high quality video and audio from computers and high definition DVD players to computer monitors and TVs. However, manufacturers are required to pay licensing fees before it can be used. DisplayPort, on the other hand, is license-free, which makes it more attractive to large computer and technology manufacturers.

    DisplayPort’s Advantages Over DVI (Digital Video Interface)

    DisplayPort allows multiple video streams over a single physical connection, and enables the easy expansion of the standard set by the micro-packet protocol. It also enables the use of cheaper and slimmer displays by directly driving the display panels and eliminating control circuits.

    DisplayPort has backward compatibility with DVI/HDMI through a single link, while DVI/HDMI needs a dual link, and analog VGA uses active converter adapters. It is also compatible with both RGB and YcbCr color spaces.

    DisplayPort comes with a multi-purpose auxiliary channel, which can be used for touch-panel data, USB links, cameras, microphones, and such. It also has an embedded clock which goes through fewer lanes, slimmer cables, and a smaller connector that does not use thumbscrews.

    HDMI

    HDMI refers to High-definition Multimedia Interface, a link used to connect two components. It is a one-cable solution which makes setting up electronics uncomplicated and brings the highest resolution in displaying videos or movies. HDMI provides consumes with brighter, deeper colors and a sharper, more vivid picture. It also supplies the highest-quality surround sound.

    The Newest Interface

    HDMI is the most recent addition to the digital interface standard which is well supported by the audio-visual electronics industry. It is used to connect components like the High-Definition (HD) TV or the home theater system. It works to transfer digital signals of video from a source to a monitor or TV.

    About 700 corporations have now complied with the HD trend. For 2008 alone, there is a predicted total of 200 million HD-compliant electronic units that will be manufactured. By the year 2010, there will be at least 1 billion HD devices shipped into the consumer market.

    What Formats are Supported by HDMI?

    The first version of HDMI was intended to hold 8-channels at 192kHz in an uncompressed audio of 24 bits. This element can be found in many formats of consumer media. It is able to transmit any type of compressed audio format currently found in the market.

    HDMI supports Dolby such as Dolby Digital EX 7.1, Plus 7.1, and TruHD. It can also be used with DTS, DTS-ES 6.1, and HD Master Audio.

    What More Does it Offer?

    HDMI brings a continuous evolution of specifications to meet the needs of the audio-visual market. Upcoming models are designed to be compatible with older versions of HDMI products. HDMI offers a convergence of many consumer electronic devices and personal computers. The long-term research will enable the delivery of premium contents of movies and multi-channel formats in High-Definition display.

    The leading HDMI initiators, including primary manufacturers of consumer electronics devices, are listed below:

    • Hitachi;
    • Matsushita Electric Industrial (Panasonic);
    • Sony;
    • Phillips;
    • Toshiba;
    • Thomson (RCA); and
    • Silicon Image.

    HDMI has gained popularity for its merits. It is supported by the top four motion picture companies namely Warner Brothers, Fox, Universal, and Disney. It is also backed by system operators such as DirecTV, EchoStar (Dish Network), and CableLabs.

    Additional Reading on HDMI

    QVGA

    QVGA is short for Quarter Video Graphics Array, also referred to as qVGA or Quarter VGA.

    The name Quarter VGA was derived from its maximum resolution of 320 x 240 pixels because it is a quarter or ¼ of 640 × 480 pixels. This is the maximum resolution of the original IBM machine that had the VGA display.

    QVGA Resolution

    Usually, the displays are in a portrait layout as opposed to the landscape layout. It is known to have a 240 x 320 resolution because the length of the display is taller compared to its width.

    Various Uses

    Quarter VGA can be used in various ways. It is usually found in handheld electronic devices such as mobile phones (Samsung SGH-D600 and Pantech PH-L4000V), game consoles, still digital cameras (Fujifilm FinePix S602), and Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs) like palmtop computers.

    It can also be seen on digital video recording equipment as a mode to efficiently save space with each frame in an image of 320 x 240 pixels. Quarter VGA video is normally 15 or 30 frames per second. The Quarter VGA mode only refers to the size of an image commonly called the resolution. It does not refer to a video file format, contrary to what may people think.

    QVGA is also used in iTunes software. Prior to the introduction of Version 7 by Apple, the television programs on iTunes were spread in QVGA resolution for syncing to a fifth-generation iPod or watching on a computer. It has the capacity to play Quarter VGA-resolution videos at 30 frames per second. iTunes currently spreads movies and television programs in VGA resolution.

    The resolution is also used by some high-end phones in capturing video.

    It is not restricted to a portrait layout; it can also be in a landscape layout where the image has a resolution of 320 pixels horizontal by 240 pixels vertical.

    At present, this format is often used by many LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) screens using the Quarter VGA specification. There are also several QVGA displays with the touch screen feature.

    MP4 Codecs

    The MP4 file format is used to contain audio and video files. It can also store additional information such as subtitles and pictures. This file format requires a codec to compress and decompress data files for public consumption.

    What Is a Codec?

    Codec stands for Coder/Decoder. It is a program or device used to compress and decompress digital data signals or streams. Its main function is to convert normally large files into smaller units. This conversion makes it easier to transfer across the Web, through wireless devices, Local Area Networks (LAN), or any other file transfer method.

    There are two types – video codec and audio codec. They are both useful with MP4 because MP4 contains both the audio and video file format.

    • A video codec is capable of compressing and/or decompressing digital video. It is found in VCDs (MPEG-1), DVD (MPEG-2), satellite systems, terrestrial broadcast systems, and almost everywhere on the Internet.
    • An audio codec is an application that can compress or decompress digital audio. It can be used to play or process a number of digital file formats used to store audio.

    Advantages of an MP4 Codec

    • MP4 helps by compressing data. It eliminates the long wait time needed to download a video.
    • It encodes raw data stream into compressed data, enabling the transfer of data into a video player when the video runs.
    • It compresses and encodes large audio or video files into small yet high quality file formats;
    • The right codec installed in a computer helps in viewing a compressed video.
    • It gives the video a quality similar to DVD while maintaining its size to a minimum level.
    • It can fit a number of movies into a small MP4 player.

    Commonly Used MP4 Codecs

    There are 3 commonly used MP4 codecs.

    1. Advanced Audio Coding (AAC). It is a standard compression and encoding format that uses encoding schemes and lossy compression for digital audio. It reduces the amount of unnecessary information and increases the quality of data. The resulting audio has a sound quality that is better than MP3.
    2. MPEG-4 Part 2. It is an MPEG standard that can be utilized for broadcast, Internet, and storage media. It consists of object-oriented coding features that help improve video coding compression capabilities. It provides improved quality compared to the first version of H.263 and MPEG-2. It also embraces some capabilities developed in H.263 and added new features, like quarter-pel motion compensation. In addition, it supports both interlaced video and progressive scans.
    3. Advanced Video Coding (AVC), also known as ITU-T’s H.264 or MPEG-4 Part 10. It is a standard for video compression. It is one of the most recent block-oriented motion-estimation-based codecs. It contains several significant compression capabilities. It was adopted recently by many tech products, including the iPod, XBOX 360, iPhone, PlayStation Portable, and the HD DVD/Blu-ray Disc.

    MP4

    Moving Picture Expert Group-4 (MP4 or MPEG-4 Part 14) is a multimedia container format. It can hold compressed or reduced audio and visual digital data. The format is used for Web and voice streaming, high-definition television applications, and CD distribution. The filename extension for Mpeg-4 Part 14 files is .mp4; hence, the name MP4.

    MP4 files can store different multimedia streams into a single file. The format is especially compatible with videos in mpeg format. It can also store still images and subtitles.

    The specification for the file format was first released in 1998. It was composed of standard audio and video coding formats. The standard is listed under ISO/IEC 14496, granted by the ISO/IEC Moving Picture Experts Group.

    A number of programs can encode or convert files into the MP4 format. These files are easy to transfer online because they only take up a small amount of space. The format is also used to store and view videos in a number of portable media devices.

    Uses Of MP4

    There are a lot of ways to enjoy the functions of MP4. They are as follows:

    1. Developers can benefit from MP4 by:

    • creating objects with better features, such as animation graphics, digital television, and World Wide Web enhancements; and
    • control content better, in order to efficiently fight against copyright violations.

    2. For network providers and entrepreneurs, MP4 can be a great marketing tool in generating huge sales by:

    • providing a presentation of various services and goods offered by the company through its website;
    • advertising the company’s presentation for potential customers; and
    • using MP4 for data transparency by transforming and interpreting these data into different signals well-suited with any existing network.

    3. For residential users, MP4 can be a fantastic tool to:

    • create your very own streaming media in the MP4 format;
    • enjoy different kinds of movie shorts, whether professional or amateur;
    • enjoy a variety of animated videos;
    • save various streams, whether audio, video, or animation, into your hard drive; and
    • share a copy of these streams with others through email or file-sharing.

    Types of MP4 Files

  • Simple Profile which is for low-resolution digital video content commonly used for online circulation; and
  • Advanced Video Coding which is used for higher quality formats, such as those for high-definition television (HDTV).
  • Additional Reading on MP4