GE Announces Upgraded Video Compression Module to Enhance Military Decision Making and Troop Safety

ICS-8580 rugged XMC responds to growing use of video in conflict zones


CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA   February 21, 2012 GE Intelligent Platforms today announced an enhanced version of the ICS-8580 rugged high definition video compression XMC module. Designed in response to the growing use of video in a broad range of defense applications, it allows very high quality moving images to be captured,  transmitted and stored at very high speed with very low latency and with minimal consumption of precious bandwidth or disk space. As such, it can make a significant contribution to superior decision making and improved troop safety.

The ICS-8580 can capture video inputs and archive or stream them over Ethernet, managing multiple streams and performing capture, manipulation, conversion, compression, storage, decompression and video display. Its rugged XMC form factor means that it is compact, lightweight and consumes little power, enabling it to be easily deployed in systems destined for deployment in harsh environments that are constrained by size, weight and power (SWaP).

The original version of the ICS-8580 has been widely deployed in programs such as NASA’s Global Hawk initiative.

Specifically, the enhancements from the previous version of the ICS-8580 include:

  • The provision of two DSPs, each of which can be configured as an encoder or decoder, providing superior system flexibility.
  • Full support for PCI Express, allowing uncompressed data to be uploaded and downloaded and improving configurability within custom systems
  • Provision of an SDK (software development kit) for faster integration with remote configuration options
  • Inclusion of six inputs and four outputs for flexible pass-through modes, allowing the use of any front end connector and facilitating integration with legacy systems
  • Out of the box ability to connect to a NAS (network-attached storage) for easier integration.
  • Support for the synchronization of stereo or mono sound for improved flexibility.

“The increasing deployment of unmanned vehicles by military organizations around the world is seeing increasing demand for the use of video for intelligence, reconnaissance and surveillance applications,” said Rod Rice, General Manager, Military & Aerospace Products, GE Intelligent Platforms. “The ICS-8580 provides a substantial step forward in its ability to stream video, and provides a solution for a new realm of sophisticated, demanding applications.”

In video capture and transmission, the primary challenge is how to maintain video quality in order to maximize critical detail while minimizing the use of bandwidth by implementing highly efficient algorithms: transmitting ‘raw’, unprocessed high definition video data at very high speed requires bandwidth that is rarely available in, for example, air-to-ground applications. Similarly, storage of high definition video data – for later review and analysis, for example - in its uncompressed form can require terabytes of disk space.

The ICS-8580 features H.264 video compression/decompression (codec) technology, which is widely regarded as being the optimum solution: it is considered to be up to 3x as efficient as other codec solutions, allowing vital image detail to be retained while occupying the minimum possible bandwidth or storage.  

At the heart of the ICS-8580 lies a combination of a versatile FPGA device coupled with powerful dual DSP signal processors, providing unparalleled compute power for video applications. The FPGA enables video switching, format conversions, scaling, blending and other processing functions while the dual DSP processors enable multichannel video compression and decompression for over 100x reduction in bandwidth with minimal impact on video quality. It can handle up to two channels of full HD (1080p30) or UXGA (1,600 x 1,200 @ 30 frames/second) video, or up to four channels of standard definition video.

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Ian McMurray, GE Intelligent Platforms

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