According to estimates from Arm, the demand for IoT devices with embedded vision capabilities is among the highest across connected device’s space.
The security (surveillance) and IP camera market are set for an annual growth rate of 20% through to 2021 reaching over 500 million shipped units; while personal robots are growing at around 75% y-o-y and are expected to reach 2 million units shipped in 2021.
The smart home market is growing at 14% y-o-y and is expected to reach 88 million units in 2021, and other devices like drones, augmented reality (AR)/ mixed reality (MR) equipment and action cameras are shifting from emerging to widely adopted in terms of the market category
In response to the demand for real-time higher image quality in those devices, Arm has unveiled a new generation of image signal processors (ISPs), the Arm Mali-C52 and Mali-C32 ISPs.
A critical aspect of image technology used is the ISP technology embedded within each of them. In these constrained devices, the key function of an ISP is to deliver the most accurate and highest image quality when pulling data from an image sensor and processing each pixel, particularly where machine learning is involved.
The Arm Mali-C52 and Mali-C32 apply over twenty-five processing steps to each pixel, of which three critical ones deliver key differentiation in terms of image output quality. These include high-dynamic-range (HDR), noise reduction and color management. By incorporating Arm’s Iridix technology and other algorithms for noise and color management, the Mali-C52’s and Mali-C32’s ISP efficiently deliver all three at high resolution and in real-time (e.g. 4k resolution at 60fps).
The Mali ISPs, with Arm’s dynamic range management and tone mapping technology, are designed to enable viewers to see enhanced shadows, without touching or changing the highlights of the image.
The Mali-C52 can be configured for two different optimizations – image quality or area. This flexibility allows the company’s silicon partners to use the same IP and software across a range of products and use cases. The Mali-C32 is optimized specifically for areas in lower-power, cost-sensitive embedded vision devices such as entry-level access control or hobby drones.
Both ISPs are a complete solution as Arm delivers the hardware IP along with ISP software drivers, including the 3A libraries (auto-exposure, auto-white balance, auto-focus) and the calibration and tuning tools.
Features and benefits include:
• Higher ISP image quality: Iridix technology is designed to deliver a precise model of human retina contrast adaption, enabling cameras to see like the human eye.
• Higher performance as the ISP can process 600 megapixels/sec, which is essentially professional photography quality (e.g. DSLR) at premium smartphone-level frame rates.
• Complete software package for controlling the ISP, sensor, auto-white balance, auto-focus and auto-exposure. Both bare metal and Linux (Video4Linux framework – v4L2) software are provided.
• Flexible tuning: Tune it both objectively and subjectively with a full set of tuning and calibration tools. Specialized tuning training courses and support for tailored tuning for specific use cases and sensors are also available.