Shiny pixels at Qualcomm

CRT, LCD, TFT, OLED, EPD and DLP are just some of the many acronyms used for the techniques behind displays. There’s an article in the November 2007 issue of Scientific American that presents a new acronym: IMOD. The IMOD displays are based on many small interferometric modulators, which bounce back light at different intensities. They don’t need a backlight, which means power consumption is much lower, ever so important for portable applications. The viewing experience is also greatly enhanced I am sure. The electronic paper displays that I’ve seen don’t use a back-light either and they’re great. They read like paper. The e-ink pixels change intensities too slowly to show video though, while the IMOD technology is very fast. The whole technology reminds me of the, also MEMS-based, DLP from Texas Instruments. Within a few years, that technology quickly became prevalent in projectors, beating out LCD.

With better displays, video coding artefacts will only become more apparent. Is your video subsystem ready to capture and play the highest quality video?

Crummy pixels on my iPod Touch

I recently bought an iPod Touch. The WiFi integration is neat and worked straight out of the box. I now have a pocketable Internet browser, and it even connects directly to YouTube, using the new H.264 codec instead of YouTube’s default and inferior Flash codec that the PC-based website uses.

After playing a few videos something interesting happened. The video codec shows very crude artefacts. See the picture below. I haven’t found many other iPod users on the web complaining yet, but it’s hard to believe I am the only one. Will Apple be able to fix this with a firmware upgrade? If the rumoured Samsung chip at the heart of this device uses a hard-wired video coding subsystem, they likely won’t be able to fix the issue quickly in software. Instead, they will have to respin the chip and people will have to return their devices and get new ones months later. Chip inventory will have to be trashed. A reset fixed the issue for me, but it has shown up again.

Are you an SOC designer that still uses hard-wired video codecs? Can you risk designing an SOC that requires a silicon respin to resolve issues that could have been solved in software if a programmable approach had been chosen?