Today at IBC2004, Microsoft Corp. announced leading product vendors would be demonstrating end-to-end high-definition broadcast and encoding and playback solutions using Microsoft® Windows Media® 9 Series. Real-time software- and hardware-based high-definition (HD) encoding solutions were demonstrated by companies including Inlet Technologies Inc., TANDBERG Television, Tarari Inc. and Telestream Inc. Real-time Windows Media Video 9 (WMV 9) hardware-based HD encoding and decoding chipsets and reference designs were announced and will be demonstrated by Equator Technologies Inc., Sigma Designs Inc., STMicroelectronics and Texas Instruments Inc. for set-top boxes and next-generation DVD players, further extending the reach of high-definition content beyond the Windows®-based PC.
“Today at IBC2004, with a host of leading broadcast industry partners, we will be demonstrating how Windows Media 9 Series is enabling Windows-based PC, consumer electronics and television experiences in HD,” said Amir Majidimehr, corporate vice president of the Windows Digital Media Division at Microsoft. “The quality and compression efficiency of Windows Media 9 Series, combined with its momentum with industry standards organizations, have fueled a wealth of adoption, making a broad range of leading-edge high-definition scenarios available today.”
“Microsoft’s Windows Media 9 Series is an important high-quality audio and video format for home entertainment devices, such as cable, satellite and IP set-top boxes as well as digital video recorders, and will bring high-quality secured digital multimedia content to consumers,” said Christos Lagomichos, general manager of the Home Entertainment Group at STMicroelectronics. “ST is now incorporating support for Windows Media 9 Series and Windows Media DRM in its next-generation decoder family of ICs for manufacturers to integrate into both standard- and high-definition consumer products early next year.”
Windows Media Video 9 Standards Gain Momentum
WMV 9 continues to gain momentum with standards development organizations, as marked by continued progress of SMPTE’s C-24 group in the standardization of VC-1, the proposed SMPTE standard based on Windows Media Video 9. VC-1 recently passed the SMPTE Committee Draft (CD) milestone. In addition, VC-1 recently was made a mandatory video codec for next-generation HD optical media in the Blu-ray Disc (BD) and the DVD Forum’s HD DVD formats. As a result, next-generation DVD players will be able to play HD content encoded in VC-1. Microsoft is one of the founders of the Advanced Access Content System (AACS), a standards organization that includes representatives from leading Hollywood studios, and consumer electronics and information technology manufacturers; AACS is defining the next generation of optical media content protection for enabling HD content distribution as well as electronic sell-through. Microsoft continues to engage and participate in technology development with long-established European broadcasting standards bodies including the World DAB Forum, ITU, EBU and the Digital Video Broadcasting Project.
“I am very pleased with the progress being made on VC-1, where SMPTE has benefited greatly from participation by many compression experts,” said Peter Symes, vice president of engineering at SMPTE. “Most of the technical issues have been resolved, and a structured family of documents is evolving that will provide a sound basis for future work. The VC-1 specification is now being prepared for the next ballot to the full C-24 Technology Committee.”
Windows Media 9 Series Powers New HD Encoding and Decoding Vendor Solutions
The advanced compression efficiencies and scalability of Windows Media 9 Series make it a compelling choice for the production and distribution of content for the broadcast industry. Windows Media Video 9 provides compression efficiency approximately three times that of MPEG-2 and delivers HD content at bit rates as low as 6 Mbps to 8 Mbps.
Product vendors demonstrating support for Windows Media 9 Series HD capture, software and hardware-based encoding, and acceleration include the following:
*Inlet Technologies, a provider of professional encoding solutions for high-definition content creation and distribution, will demonstrate Inlet Fathom, a hybrid hardware and software solution enabling real-time encoding of Windows Media High Definition Video (WMV HD). Fathom produces high-quality, high-definition content at significantly reduced file sizes, making high-definition content creation and distribution accessible, efficient and affordable for the post-production market. Inlet will demonstrate real-time WMV HD encoding from a live master content source for playback to an HD plasma screen.
*Tarari Inc. is offering an Early Adopters Program for its acceleration technology that will significantly speed the encoding of content in WMV HD. As a result of collaboration between Tarari and Microsoft, this technology will enable creators, producers and broadcasters to encode and deliver content in WMV HD (and SD) in near-real time. The product is based on Tarari’s award-winning hardware Content Processing platform providing extreme acceleration to parts of the WMV codec.
*TANDBERG Television will continue to make advanced encoding in real time a reality with the launch of the world’s first high-definition hardware encoder for VC-1, the proposed SMPTE standard based on Windows Media Video 9. Live demonstrations will show the new TANDBERG EN5980 encoder delivering HD image quality at lower bit rates for live TV than ever seen before. In addition, visitors to IBC2004 will see live demos of the TANDBERG EN5920, the only dedicated hardware standard-definition encoding platform for Windows Media 9 Series that is currently shipping, and is already in active trials with telephone companies in North America, Asia Pacific and Europe.
*Telestream announced the industry’s first support for exporting and importing Windows Media 9 Series files on Mac OS X platforms. Telestream’s new Windows Media on the Mac offering enables users to save QuickTime files in Windows Media 9 Series directly on their Macs. The Telestream Windows Media Format solution supports any QuickTime-based application, including QuickTime Player, Final Cut Pro, Adobe Premiere and Avid Xpress. Windows Media 9 Series has become extremely popular for Web streaming and provides a bit-rate-efficient media transport format for professional users.
The world’s leading chip manufacturers demonstrating silicon chipsets and reference designs for hardware encoders, digital set-top boxes, DVD players, digital video recorders, Portable Media Centers and home-networking devices that support Windows Media 9 Series include the following:
*Equator. The BSP-15 chip is a system on a chip (SOC) that supports high-definition playback of Windows Media Video 9 and is being deployed in consumer electronics devices such as DVD players, Internet-connected set-top boxes, digital TVs and home gateways today.
*Sigma Designs. The EM8620L family provides highly integrated solutions for IP video, DVD and WMV HD and SD decoding. Based on the company’s award-winning REALmagic Video Streaming Technology, the EM8620L family incorporates flexible, advanced audio and video processing, enabling cost-effective solutions for consumer appliances such as video end points, portable media players, DVD receivers, and DVD players with networking and/or PVR capability.
*STMicroelectronics announced support for Windows Media 9 Series in its new, highly integrated high-definition set-top box chipsets. The chipsets will leverage ST’s leading-edge technology to perform transport filtering, descrambling, and decoding of MPEG-2 and MPEG-4 video, in addition to Windows Media Video 9. Set-top box manufacturers have started designs with these chipsets, and production ramps are expected in 2005.
*Texas Instruments. The suite of TMS320DM64x digital media processors brings Windows Media 9 Series Audio and Video quality to consumer electronics OEMs of set-top boxes, personal video recorders and digital media receivers. The TMS320C64x digital signal processor (DSP) core-based digital media processors have achieved the first real-time video and audio encoder conformance for Microsoft Windows Media 9 Series.