Fraunhofer IIS Low Complexity Codec Enables Trans­mission of High-Resolution Video Regardless of Bandwidth Limitations

Press Release / 7.9.2012

Vast amounts of high-resolution images mean vast amounts of data: The Low Complexity Codec developed by the Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits IIS flexibly adapts streams of image data to the available infrastructure and bandwidth without sacrificing high resolution or dynamic range.

In film production, high-resolution camera images often stretch the transmission capacity of buffers and internal bus systems. If these images are transmitted to external equipment using a standard connection such as Ethernet, HD-SDI or Channel-Link, then bit rate limits (1 GBit/s in the case of Ethernet) will inevitably lead to bottlenecks. Every time the information superhighway becomes congested, errors such as dropped frames will occur during transmission. Fraunhofer IIS‘s Low Complexity Codec ­eliminates this problem: It makes it possible to utilize standard connections and low-cost programmable chips to transmit high-resolution video frame by frame with visually lossless compression (1:2 to 1:8) and minimal latency (typically less than one milli­second). While data volumes are greater than with the H.264 codec, for instance, the computational cost involved is low enough to enable the use of existing or easily available low-cost electronic components. Since the Low Complexity Codec requires no complex circuitry, it can, for instance, be implemented on an existing FPGA (field-programmable gate array) that is not operating at capacity. No expensive special FPGAs or ASICs (application-specific integrated circuits) are needed.

LCC allows the bit rate to be adjusted to the available bandwidth

Long-distance transmission of video signals from a computer to several monitors poses similar difficulties: Normally, an expensive solution such as a fiber-optic or specially created connection would be necessary to combine high image quality with high transmission quality – HDMI, DVI and DisplayPort connections enable fast transmission only over short distances. Fraunhofer IIS‘s Low Complexity Codec also provides the answer to this type of scenario: It allows the bit rate to be adjusted to the available bandwidth, depending on the type of cable used. When monitors are connected directly to a computer, low latency is crucial, since a person interacting with a computer expects any change to be immediately displayed on their monitor.
In sum, the Low Complexity Codec is an inexpensive solution for image processing and transmission systems used in professional film production and multimedia applications.

If you would like a taste of the current implementation, visit the Fraunhofer Digital Cinema booth at IBC 2012, which will be held in Amsterdam from September 7–11, 2012. Find us at booth B80 in Hall 8.