Recently I had a privilege to be on the panel at Renesas Devcon 2010. Renesas, for those of you don’t know, is one of the top chip companies and has a large portfolio of microcontrollers.  I was one of the panelists on ‘Meet the Experts’ session that focused on multimedia technologies. The session was titled “Multimedia Issues in Embedded Systems Design”. The audience was fairly interactive during the session and the discussion centered around on Android, Flash, Video, Audio, Hardware decoders and in general challenges in designing successful products. Some of the key giveaways I noted from the session are as follows.

- H.264 by far is the leading video codec in the market today.

- The scalable (SVC) H.264 standard will possibly emerge as the next winner. (Scalable VIdeo offers ability for device to reconstruct the video without having to decode in entirety. In other words, it is possible to encode/decode video stream ’scaled’ for a particular screen size. This reduces the complexity of chipset needed for low end handheld devices to decode the video).

- Android has quite a few optimizations built-in specifically for ARM chipset. This is not surprising given that the handset market is ruled by ARM CPUs.

- Hardware decode APIs for video decoders are crucial from an architectural point of view. Some companies prefer one API that’ll do complete job whereas others might prefer a tiered APIs in which one or more subroutines can be re-written. These subroutines can be used as a differentiators by OEMs.

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