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January 31, 2022

Intel Agilex Processor Efficiently Processes 8K/60p Video

By Evan Pandya, Intel

The Intel® Agilex™ FPGA has now been upgraded to enable four parallel pipelines of video processing, bringing fast and efficient processing of 8K /60p video. This improvement means cloud or edge-based processing, encoding, and transcoding can now be done in real-time, enabling live 8K distribution. Unfortunately, no encoding benchmark data is available at this time.

Intel Agilex Processor 8K/60p video is a general-purpose processing SoC FPGA designed to serve a range of applications in the data center, networking and edge compute. Video processing is a critical application, and the new performance boost allows video designers to minimize on-resource usage, yielding hefty static power savings. Intel Agilex supports 28.3 Gbps, 58 Gbps, and 116 Gbps transceivers allowing very high-speed access to memory, PCIe, and other processing components.

Intel® Agilex™ FPGA

Intel Agilex enables innovation in 8K video systems, providing ~2X better fabric performance/watt than competing 7 nm FPGAs. Achieving a device Fmax of 600 MHz for video processing tasks enables potential area optimizations by reducing the number of pixels processed in parallel needed to reach 8K throughputs, allowing significant reductions in FPGA device resource usage and static power savings.

For video, unlike some other technology areas, there are strict frequency “steps” or cutoffs for serial –or 1 pixel in parallel– pixel data processing.

Intel Agilex enables innovation in 8K video systems

If you wanted to process 4K60 video at 1 pixel in parallel, your FPGA would need to be able to comfortably run processing IPs at a frequency of at least 594 MHz. If you cannot process at one pixel-in-parallel, you must re-architect video IP cores to process multiple pixels per clock cycle. Such a constraint often means duplicating the entire video pipeline within the IP core, thereby significantly increasing the design size. Now, however, the paradigm is shifting with high-performance FPGAs like Intel Agilex. 

This newest Intel® Agilex™ FPGA device is built on Intel 10nm SuperFin Technology and 2nd Gen Intel Hyperflex FPGA Architecture, bringing innovations that enable it to reach an Fmax of 600 MHz and comfortably meet the 594 MHz mentioned above frequency cutoff. This capability allows for the serial processing of 4K60 video and four pixel-in-parallel processing of 8K60 video.

Processing of 8K/60 fps video means that 4 pixels must be processed in parallel every clock cycle. This requirement does not mean that 4 Intel Agilex FPGAs are needed, but rather four identical processing cores within the wrapper of the IP core. For a function such as color space conversion (e.g., RGB->YUV), Intel Agilex’s 600 MHz Fmax and 4PiP architecture now enable this on 8K/60 content. Previous FPGA families couldn’t reach 600 MHz and required eight processing cores @300MHz – needing double the resources (and static power).

This breakthrough combination of high Fmax capability, 4PiP, and the presence of high-speed transceivers enables 8K encoding and processing for a complete 8K capability on a single chip. This innovation prepares Intel FPGAs to power 8K solutions for a wide range of applications in broadcast and professional-AV markets, such as studio cameras and network infrastructure. For more information and partner application examples, please see https://www.intel.co.uk/content/www/uk/en/broadcast/products/programmable/overview.html.

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