Saturday, December 29, 2012

Pthreads Win32

Pthread is the POSIX 1003.1-2001 standard which defines an application programming interface (API) for writing multithreaded applications. It is commonly used in linux. Win32 does not and is unlikely to ever support pthreads natively.

A good comparison between threading mechanism in Win32 and POSIX systems is Robert Sayegh's presentation "PThreads Vs Win32 Threads". Clay Breshears believed that Pthreads are better than Win32 threads

The Pthreads Win32 project seeks to provide a freely available and high-quality solution to this problem. The current release version is 2.9.1 (2012-05-27). It can be compiled with Visual C++Some tests suggested Pthreads Win32 is faster than Win32 threads.

The source tree and precompiled .DLL, .LIB and necessary header files are included in the zip file named "" at: 

(v-v-v is the version number, e.g. 1-4-0, and “release” is a descriptive term that may vary, e.g. beta1, rc1. Etc). Versions older than 2.9.1 are in self-extracting .exe files.

Just the DLLs, LIBs, header files, and admin documentation is available at:

The source tree is available as a gzipped tar file from:

The source files are also available in unpacked form at:

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

TI Shifting Focus to Industrial and Automotive Area

Texas Instruments announced last month that it is eliminating 1,700 jobs worldwide as it cuts spending in its wireless business. As the company's biggest smartphone and tablet customers have begun developing their own chips, Texas Instruments is shifting the focus to industrial and automotive customers. Yesterday it announced that it will lay off more than 500 people at a research and development plant near Nice, France, in the coming months. The plant was primarily dedicated to developing OPAM microprocessors used in smartphones and tablets.

TI's automotive products include Automotive Central Body ControllerDriver Information / Entertainment which features Active Noise Cancellation (ANC), instrument cluster, infotainment as well as digital radio solutions.

In July 2012, CSR PLC sold its handset connectivity and location operations and the associated technology to Samsung and shifted to voice & music, automotive infotainment, indoors location finding, imaging and Bluetooth smart.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Allegro DVT FPGA based HEVC (H.265) Decoder

At IBC 2012, Allegro DVT will demonstrate an FPGA based, real-time, high definition HEVC (H.265) decoder, according to Allegro DVT.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Top 10 Semiconductor Vendors by Revenue, Worldwide, 2012

Table 1. Top 10 Semiconductor Vendors by Revenue, Worldwide, 2012 (Millions of Dollars)
Rank 2011
Rank 2012
2011 Revenue
2012 Estimated Revenue
2011-2012 Growth (%)
2012 Market Share (%)
Texas Instruments
Renesas Electronics
SK Hynix




The mobile phone chipmaker saw its revenue rise 29.6% year over year in 2012, while the overall market declined 3%. Of the top 10 chip vendors worldwide, only Qualcomm and No. 9 Broadcom increased their revenue this year. Both Qualcomm and Broadcom are Apple iPhone suppliers. 

Qualcomm surged to become the No. 3 semiconductor vendor worldwide this year by revenue. Qualcomm bucked the industry trend and grew this year thanks to continued adoption of smartphones and the growth of 3G and LTE technology in emerging regions, such as China and India, Gartner said

Broadcom's revenue rose 8.8%. While part of the company's year-over-year performance gain was attributed to the acquisition of NetLogic Microsystems, the highest organic growth in the company was once again achieved by the Mobile and Wireless division, which grew close to double digits. Broadcom's third division, Broadband, bounced back from a revenue decline in 2011 by growing in the mid single digits in 2012. 

Chip sales are expected to bounce back in 2013. Gartner forecasts global chip revenue to rise 4.5% to $311.4 billion next years, as IBD reported.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

H.265 (HEVC) and FPGA

High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) or H.265 is the current joint video coding standardization project of ITU-T Video Coding Experts Group (ITU-T Q.6/SG 16) and ISO/IEC Moving Picture Experts Group (ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 29/WG 11). The current version is High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) text specification draft 8HEVC software repository is mainly at Fraunhofer Heinrich Hertz Institute.

It is expected H.265 can obtain the same quality as H.264 at half the bit rate. Cisco published a demo at Youtube to show the H.265 capability of high quality video with great bandwidth. Moreover, H,265 can cover both scenarios and support a wide range of applications, from DTH transmission to acquisition and storage.

According to Cisco's latest Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast, world mobile data traffic to explode by factor of 26 by 2015, and two-thirds of the world's mobile data traffic will be video by 2015.

Many initiatives are underway for greater video quality. Japan's NHK is working on Super Hi-Vision video format , a successor to the familiar high-definition broadcast system, using 4K × 2K TV with approximately four times the pixel count of Full HD. Fujitsu announced that it has developed h.264 based codec equipment for systems transmitting Super Hi-Vision (SHV) video, with resolution 16 times higher than Japan's current Full Hi-Vision video. As entering an era of video data exploding, 3D and other high-resolution imaging, video compression technology is going to be more and more important. H.265 is expected to meet this trend need.

The technical architecture of HEVC is basically conceptually similar to H.264 (and 
prior standards):
  • Block-based
  • Variable block sizes
  • Block motion compensation
  • Fractional-pel motion vectors
  • Spatial intra prediction
  • Spatial transform of residual difference
  • Integer-based transform designs
  • Arithmetic or VLC-based entropy coding
  • In-loop filtering to form final decoded picture
Lots of variations at the individual “tool” level include:
  • Coding unit tree structure (8x8 up to 64x64 luma samples)
  • Prediction units (N=4, 8, 16, 32, shapes: 2Nx2N, NxN for smallest; for inter also 2NxN & Nx2N)
  • Transforms can cross prediction unit boundaries for Intra; not for Inter
  • Transform unit tree structure (maximum of 3 levels) Transform unit tree structure (maximum of 2 levels)
  • Transform block size of 4x4 to 32x32 samples (always square)
  • Angular intra prediction (17 directions for 4x4, 3 directions for 64x64, 34 directions for others)
  • Luma motion compensation: 1/4 sample precision, 8x8 separable with 6 bit tap values
  • Chroma motion compensation: 1/8 sample precision, 4x4 separable with 6 bit tap values
  • Advanced motion vector prediction with motion vector “competition” and “merging”
The following table shows the H.265 tool set and compares with H.264:

AVC High profileHEVC High efficiencyHEVC Low complexity
16 × 16 macroblockCoding unit quadtree structure (64 × 64 down to 8 × 8)
Partitions down to 4 × 4Prediction units (64 × 64 down to 4 × 4, square intra/inter + non-square inter)
8 × 8 and 4 × 4 transformsTransforms unites (32 × 32, 16 × 16, 8 × 8, 4 × 4 intra/inter + non-square inter)
Intra prediction (9 directions)Intra prediction (17 directions for 4 × 4, 3 directions for 16 × 16, 34 directions for rest)
Inter prediction luma 6-tap + 2-tap to 1/4 pelInter prediction luma 8-tap to 1/4 pel
Inter prediction chroma bi-linear interpolationInter prediction chroma 4-tap to 1/8 pel
Motion vector predictionAdvanced motion vector prediction (spatial + temporal)
CABAC or CAVLCCABAC (Context Adaptive Binary Arithmetic Docing)CAVLC (Context Adaptive Variabl Length Coding)
8b/sample storage and output10b/sample storage and output8b/sample storage and output
Deblocking filterDeblocking filter
-Adaptive Loop Filter (AFL) and Sample Adaptive Offset (SAO) filterSample Adaptive Offset (SAO) filter
Table 1. The toolsets provided to implement HEVC encoders can be used and modified to improve bit rate, video quality or both. Information courtesy Matthew Goldman, Ericsson, from the paper “High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) - The Next Generation Compression Technology,” presented at the SMPTE 2011 Technical Conference and Exhibition, Oct. 25-27, 2011.
Since technologies move so quickly, it makes it nearly impossible for broadcast engineers and designers working to get ahead of the competition to rely on application specific standard products (ASSPs) as the backbone of their hardware solutions. For this reason, Xilinx  ROBERT GREEN AND AARON BEHMAN believed that FPGAs offer the only viable platform for the next several years for companies hoping to exploit advantages of HEVC, since FPGAs can support the HEVC standard in software with hardware acceleration blocks for motion estimation and CABAC/CAVLC, which enables tradeoffs in device resource and performance while promoting design productivity. They said, "Depending on the application, the ability to trade off computational complexity, compression rate, robustness of errors and processing delay time are all elements that can only be evaluated in real-time with an FPGA-based design."

Tesla's 17" TouchScreen: The car dashboard of the future

Tesla Model S was named Motor Trend's 2013 Car of the Year, one of the automotive industry's most coveted awards.

Tesla Model S - Motor Trend Car of the Year

Tesla was co-found by Elon Musk who also is a co-founder of Paypal. He said, "Our aspiration with the Model S was to show that an electric car truly can be better than any gasoline car, which is a critical step towards the widespread adoption of sustainable transport. Nothing illustrates this more clearly than winning Motor Trend's Car of the Year by unanimous decision against a field of exceptional competitor." The field competitors included Porsche Boxster, BMW 3-series, Lexus GS, and Subaru BRZ.

It is very impressive that Tesla Model S will come with its 17-inch touch screen--a spectacular standard feature which, along with a smaller LCD display in front of the driver, replaces nearly all of the traditional controls and indicators short of basics such as the steering wheel and turn signals.

The Tesla S's touch-screen interface.
The Tesla S's touch-screen interface.
(Credit: James Martin/CNET)

According to Harry McCracken, "Tesla's screen resembles a large iPad or Android tablet--it's hard to overstate how overwhelmingly ginormous it looks--and sits in between the driver and front passenger. It has a music player, a navigation system, hand-free calling, a rear-view camera, climate controls, and other features which you might expect. It also lets you check up on the status of your car's battery, and--as you can see in the photo above--it sports a full-blown Web browser. And Tesla says that it will allow third-party apps, too."  It uses Nvidia's ARM-based Tegra platform running with Linux.

Tesla's mapping and music apps.
Tesla's mapping and music apps.
(Credit: James Martin/CNET)


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