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Ambarella Enhances Automotive Video

February 21, 2017

Author: Loyd Case

Ambarella’s A9AQ video SoC supports multiple cameras for automotive applications, including electronic mirrors, surround view, and dashboard cameras. It combines dual ARM Cortex-A9 CPUs with the company’s proprietary DSP, enabling high-dynamic-range (HDR) recording, 3D noise filtering, and LED-flicker mitigation. Compared with its predecessor, the A9 SoC, the new chip implements the rigorous Automotive Electronics Council (AEC) Q100 quality standard, broadening its target market. It began sampling in 4Q16; volume shipments are scheduled for 2H17.

Although the A9AQ functions well with the 32-bit Cortex-A9 CPUs, some applications require heavier lifting. Therefore, Ambarella also unveiled a pair of video SoCs that incorporate quad Cortex-A53 CPUs clocking at 1GHz or higher. One, the H22, targets mainstream consumer and action cameras, offering 4K H.265 encoding at 60fps and 1080p encoding at 120fps. The Ambarella DSP technology handles the digital image stabilization needed for capturing video in flight or otherwise on the go. The four A53s kick in for analytics and computer vision; in a low-cost drone, they can even handle flight control.

The company designed its other recently introduced SoC, the H3, for high-end drones, which often incorporate a separate application processor, and for surround-video capture in virtual-reality devices. Ambarella enhanced the image-processing pipeline to deliver 30fps 8K surround video (or equivalent resolution) by combining the inputs from several lower-resolution image sensors. Moreover, the pipeline adds a few features to better support surround video, including the ability to de-warp and stitch dual 60fps 4K streams captured using wide-angle or fish-eye lenses. Ambarella plans to manufacture the H22 and H3 using a 14nm FinFET process to minimize power. They will likely enter production in 2H17.

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