GE/RCA has demonstrated a video chip set that threatens to set the pace for interactive video standards
April 23, 1987
Announced at the Microsoft cd rom conference in Seattle last month, it allows an hour of 'full motion' video and sound stored at standard tv frame rates on a cd rom.
"RCA stunned the audience," said Patrick Gibbons, managing director of Archetype, the computer and cd rom specialist.
"Philips was clearly shaken and spent the remainder of the show trying to build confidence in its strategy."
Called Digital Video Interactive (dvi), the two chip set was developed in 12 months using design tools from Silicon Compiler Systems (SCS). This gave GE/RCA a three to five year lead over its competitors, according to SCS.
The result is a proprietary solution to the problem of getting a reasonable amount of moving pictures, with digital sound, on to cd rom. The current limit is a few minutes, such as promotional videos for pop singles.
In a market where several suppliers are jostling for pole position to set the pace and influence future standards, the ability to get the products to market quickly is critical. Use of SCS's silicon compiler design tools was crucial.
"The announcement throws even more doubt on the future of CD I (compact disc interactive), which offers only animation, and CD V, which is essentially a hybrid of analogue video and digital audio and data," said Gibbons.
The dvi set compresses video data by 100:1 and supports 3D graphics through which the user can 'move' in any direction.
Resolutions of up to 768 x 512pixels give a quality approaching that of professional flight simulators, according to Gibbons.
Due for volume production by the end of the year, the set comprises the VDF 1 general purpose programmable device and the VDP 2 output display processor.
The VDP 1 runs at 12.5mips and incorporates ram for storing microcode such as special video instructions. Together, the 2micron cmos devices comprise over 270 000 transistors and run at 13MHz.
GE/RCA could set a de facto standard for moving pictures on cd rom. But it remains to be seen whether it will gain the support and confidence of the large manufacturers of cd players.
(c) 1987 Miller Freeman