Topic: NeTV FPGA utilization and video processing algorithms

Hi, I'm interested in doing some video processing using small FPGA/CPU systems and I have come across the NeTV. This looks like a promising solution but I have a couple of questions about it:

1.    Is the project currently maintained or would I be investing in dead hardware?
2.    If this is still alive, how much of the FPGA is utilized by the current system? i.e., how much is left for me to do video processing with?
3.    Have you considered the new Xilinx Zynq chip for a new version of this system, open projects with the Zynq have some really good traction (Parallella, Zedboard, Mars ZX3) but there has yet to be a small, high resolution video I/O device for the platform and I think this could do well. I would certainly buy one (probably several, actually).

Re: NeTV FPGA utilization and video processing algorithms

Hi stevenc,

The project isn't really maintained.  The core distribution was done using OpenEmbedded, which has suffered greatly from bit rot.  If I want to use an NeTV for a project, I usually just debootstrap a newer Debian onto it, but then there's the problem of the older kernel (2.6.28 I believe) not running on newer distros.  The hardware still works, though, for what it's worth.

The FPGA is pretty full.  Most of it is taken up by the I2C block.  All of the BRAM is taken up by pixel buffers, which are used to counteract jitter.  You could cut down on the number of registers in the register block, though, which would greatly free up cells.

The biggest problem we see with the Zynq is the pricing.  Even low end Zynq chips run for $110+, while the LX9 used in the NeTV can be had for $15 in single-unit quantities from Digikey.  The two-chip solution is a much better cost/benefit outcome, even if it requires doing funky things with bus interconnects.

Re: NeTV FPGA utilization and video processing algorithms

I see, well alright. W this doesn't currently sound very useful for me then.

As far as the Zynq chip, how cat it be $110 for an individual chip when the cheapest Parallella is $119? Although, that is by far the cheapest Zynq-based device. Anyway, the LX9 is pretty small and I'd be willing to pay more for the hardware if it had an Artix7 and a Cortex-A9, but at the new price point it would become more of a video dev board, which I would love, but I'm not sure how many more people like me are out there.

Thanks

Re: NeTV FPGA utilization and video processing algorithms

Parallella gets volume discounts, so they probably pay around $80 for the Zynq.  If you compare unit-one costs for both LX9 and Zynq chips, you'll see there's a 10x price gap.  You'd see the same price gap in volume.

Novena has an LX45, and is actively maintained.  Even moreso, we're pushing Novena patches upstream, so it'll have very long term support.  But the fact that it's not a -T grade chip means it can't do 1080p, which might make it unsuitable for your uses.  It's also a lot more expensive :-/

Re: NeTV FPGA utilization and video processing algorithms

I see, that makes sense.

And no, I don't think the Novena would work for me. My main concerns are small size, large video I/O, and processing ability. The Novena doesn't have the first two, unfortunately.