Chips&Media this month has started to license out its Wave510A hardware decoder IP, the industry’s first AV1 video decoder. The base decoder core supports decoding up to 4Kp60, but it can be scaled out to handle 4Kp120 and 8Kp60 resolutions as well. The IP is designed to be integrated into SoCs for various applications, including televisions, STBs, smartphones, and PCs. Meanwhile, since the Wave510A only decodes AV1 streams, it will likely be licensed by parties who want to add AV1 to their existing SoCs.

The Wave510A video processing unit (VPU) IP is based on two fundamental units: the V-Core and the V-CPU. The 32-bit V-CPU controls the whole IP block, communicates with host CPU, parses bitstream syntax from sequence to slice header unit, and prescans slice data. The V-Core performs entropy decoding, inverse scan, inverse transform/quantization, motion compensation, and loop filtering. The IP VPU can be connected to host using Arm’s 32-bit AMBA3 APB bus, and also has two 128-bit AMBA3 AXI busses to access external memory and on-chip SRAM.

The Chips&Media Wave510A can decode AV1 Main profile @ L5.1 50 Mbps at 8 or 10-bit color depths, with 4:2:0 chroma subsampling. The VPU can output to various displays at up to 8192x8192 resolution in various formats. When clocked at 500 MHz, it can support up to 4Kp60 realtime decoding in a single-core configuration, whereas in a dual-core configuration it can decode 4Kp120 and 8Kp60 streams.

The AV1 royalty-free codec was introduced about 1.5 years ago by the Alliance for Open Media (AOMedia), and it is gaining traction throughout the industry. Over the past few months we have seen multiple technology licensing companies announcing hardware encoder IP blocks as well as several SoCs that already support AV1 decoding using in-house developed IP (or using general-purpose cores).

Amphion Semiconductor was the first company to announce an AV1 decoder with its CS8142 decoder IP, but this part is still in development. By contrast, the Wave510A from Chips&Media is available now and can licensed in the form of a verified synthesized RTL source. Meanwhile, the Wave510A only supports AV1, so to build a complete video decode pipeline supporting codecs like HEVC and AVC, designers will have to license or develop additional IP blocks to support those other codecs. On the other hand, the Wave510A can be easily added to existing designs and improve their feature set.

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Source: Chips&Meida (via Design & Reuse)

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  • eastcoast_pete - Monday, October 21, 2019 - link

    Unrelated to how AV 1 is written, the remaining, huge obstacle to it's acceptance is the absence of a usable encoder (software or hardware-assisted) that doesn't require 28 or more cores to encode in anything approaching reasonable times.
  • brucethemoose - Monday, October 21, 2019 - link

    I get the feeling that hardware encoding (or some kind of hybrid solution?) is going to be the only sane way to encode for awhile.

    And that's not so bad. AV1 hardware encoders will be everywhere soon enough, just like AVC/HEVC hardware encoders are everywhere now (even though most people don't use them).
  • Santoval - Tuesday, October 22, 2019 - link

    Most people don't use hardware encoders because they tend to produce utter crap - or they require much larger file sizes to match the quality of software encoders. Hardware decoders is a different story though, since they do not (commonly) affect playback quality.
  • foxyshadis - Wednesday, October 23, 2019 - link

    Of course most people use hardware encoders. More than 90% of all content is created on cell phones now, and those only use hardware encoders. If you're talking about the pirate scene and home cinema ripping, that's become an extremely niche use case compared to the 00's, and a one-time investment of a massive core count is still available to anyone who wants better than AVC.
  • ReaperUnreal - Monday, October 21, 2019 - link

    The rav1e is currently the state of the art software AV1 encoder. It seems to already be quite fast. It's not x264 levels of fast, but that shouldn't really be expected.
  • eastcoast_pete - Monday, October 21, 2019 - link

    How fast is it? Would love to hear any experiences with the most recent release. I know libaom is considered "reference" for quality, but it's really, really slow.
  • tuxRoller - Monday, October 21, 2019 - link

    I'm not sure what you mean "state of the art". It produces neither the fastest encodes or the best quality per bitrate.

    Aurora, ALLEGEDLY, is both the fastest and has the best quality.
    For normal encoders svt-av1 looks to be tops for performance while libaom will probably produce the best quality given that it supports so many tools.
  • Threska - Thursday, October 24, 2019 - link

    All of them free except for Aurora.
  • Santoval - Tuesday, October 22, 2019 - link

    rav1e is written in Rust, which means it is the cleanest and "safest" encoder, but not necessarily the faster one. C might lack memory safety, but nothing can beat its speed and its optimization potential. Rust can get very close though, so it might represent a good trade-off.
  • nirolf - Monday, October 21, 2019 - link

    Only “4:2:0 chroma subsampling”? Isn’t that “bad”?

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