Four Approaches to Building Digital Video Processing Systems

Mike Perkins and I wrote an article for Electronic Component News about the various approaches — hardware and software — to building a video encoder or decoder.

Raw IC processing power has multiple manifestations including General Purpose CPUs (GP-CPUs), Systems on a Chip (SoCs), custom ASICs and FPGAs. Not surprisingly, all of these approaches can be used to compress and decompress video and to build video processing systems. The right choice depends on the overall system requirements. As an engineering services provider specializing in the development of embedded products related to digital media processing, Cardinal Peak has developed a large number of video encoders for clients in diverse markets including broadcast video distribution, enterprise video, security/CCTV, and defense and law enforcement. In this article we discuss the advantages and tradeoffs associated with designs based around the four approaches mentioned above: GP-CPUs, SoCs, custom ASICs and FPGAs.