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Realta Chip from Silicon Optix

Nothing less than "a new standard in video quality" was promised this month by Silicon Optix in announcing its new Realta single-chip video processor.

The San Jose, CA–based innovator released the news September 9, following three years of collaboration with technology firm Teranex. The development should bring Teranex's "$60k 'Hollywood Quality Video' (HQV) to the home entertainment and professional large-area digital display markets," according to Silicon Optix chairman and CEO Paul Russo. "The Realta chip incorporates revolutionary technologies that will drive the next wave of digital video processing," Russo stated.

Combining Teranex's trillion-operation-per-second broadcast-quality video processing with Silicon Optix's proprietary geometric scaling technology yields a new standard for image quality, according to Teranex co-founder Jed Deame. "Realta's HQV technology matches, and in many cases exceeds, the industry-leading video processing seen in the $60k Teranex 3RU Xantus system," Dean noted. The processor "dramatically raises the bar for home theater picture quality."

At the core of the Realta chip are Teranex software algorithms that have been "refined through 100,000 hours of content verification over the past six years by hundreds of the most demanding customers worldwide—the 'Golden Eyes' of Hollywood post-production and broadcast including NBC, CBS, ABC, FOX, WB, and Turner networks," the announcement stated. Turner Entertainment Networks technology vice president Ron Tarasoff explained why his company chose Teranex products: "We distribute content for 25 network feeds, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Where up-conversion is involved, it is important to us that it results in the highest possible image quality."

Compromise-free: Unlike most other video processing chips that attempt to support all types of displays with fixed "average" values, Realta has robust programmability allowing consumer electronics manufacturers to optimize image quality for differen types of display technologies: plasma, LCD, DLP, HTPS, D-ILA, and LCOS. Among the HQV chip's refinements are "true 1080i to 1080p/QXGA de-interlacing, using a full four-field processing window for HD video de-interlacing and cadence detection," a technique claimed to preserve the rich details in HD imagery.

The chip offers a true 10-bit "diagonal interpolator" said to remove any "jaggies" and/or stair-stepping artifacts from de-interlaced video sources, without blurring the image. Fully-automated HQV per-pixel noise reduction and HQV detail enhancement further improve video images, so that SD approaches HD quality, Silicon Optics asserts. HQV automatic film mode cadence processing is said to be a "quantum improvement " in automatic handling of film and video sources such as 3:2 and 2:2 sequences common to broadcast and DVD. HQV processing also supports "vari-speed" cadences commonly used for movies broadcast on television, as well as cadences used for the many different styles of animation, ensuring that films and video sources will always be seen in the original format without loss of resolution.

Realta's "equal quality" two-channel processing is claimed to be an industry first—a capacity for processing two full-resolution channels of HD or SD, enabling equal image quality for each video window in PIP, PAP, and POP modes. A further refinement is the chip's optional "eWARP-2 geometry processing," a proprietary pixel over-sampling engine that allows for flexible projector placement while maintaining the highest quality graphics, fine text, and HD video. Silicon Optics claims the chip allows for projector placement offset of as much as 90 degrees off axis horizontally and 60 degrees vertically.

For manufacturers who adopt Realta video processors with new image processing software into their products, image quality and compatibility of their products could be "essentially future-proofed," said Silicon Optix marketing vice president Dennis Crespo. "As the Realta chip is integrated into home entertainment products, the HQV logo will rapidly come to be synonymous with the very finest video display quality possible."

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