Hardware_man
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Re: Camera Interface Specs

Tue Jan 15, 2013 3:43 pm

Interesting post on your home page today, “Coffee!”

I wonder if Quentin Stafford-Fraser had to go through this much techno-politics to get a video input on his frame grabber back in 1991? I guess this is progress ;.)

Hardware_man

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Re: Camera Interface Specs

Tue Jan 15, 2013 3:54 pm

Hardware_man wrote:Interesting post on your home page today, “Coffee!”

I wonder if Quentin Stafford-Fraser had to go through this much techno-politics to get a video input on his frame grabber back in 1991? I guess this is progress ;.)

Hardware_man
No he didn't, because life was different then. Considerably simpler for a start. Modern tech is orders of magnitude more complicated than 20 years ago, and that shows in developments costs as much as any thing else.

So, the conclusion of all the above is....

1) It should be possible to attach a HDMI to CSI-2 convertor to the CSI port on the Raspi. That will need a dedicated PCB.
2) It will require a new driver, plus software changes to the OpenMAX layers to provide the features needed to support the driver

So

a) Someone needs to design the PCB.
b) The software changes are time consuming and need access to the GPU codebase, which means Broadcom or the Foundation will need to do it.

Problems:

The above costs money - who is going to pay for it? It also requires engineering time from either Broadcom (very busy at the moment and will NOT be interested in the project - no money in it) or the Foundation, who don't have any software engineers capable of doing it on the books, and have other needs for any they can draft in.


So, entirely possible technically, maybe not cost effective to actually do at the moment.
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Re: Camera Interface Specs

Wed Jan 16, 2013 8:51 pm

jamesh wrote:Broadcom (very busy at the moment and will NOT be interested in the project - no money in it)
Opening up their SoCs to the DVR and video processor market has no money in it? Time to scrawl 'CLUE' on an inflatable squeaky mallet and go bob some Broadcom executives!

£30k-£50k dev costs are easily within range of a Kickstarter. Finding a few thousand 'Pi users (or potential users) willing to cough up a few quid for a user-programmable video recorder & processor shouldn't be too hard. Even if all it does is grab frames (over non-HDCP links), encode to h.264 and shove them over ethernet (in leau of USB3), the cheapest devices that do that cost around £200 (e.g. Blackmagic Intensity).

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Re: Camera Interface Specs

Wed Jan 16, 2013 9:50 pm

I don’t know how much of this is true and how much of this is “paranoid evil corporation conspiracy theory”. On some of the consumer A/V forums, it goes like this. Hollywood, Cable companies and DVR and / or DVD recorder manufactures have this “evil conspiracy” going. The cable companies will end analog service. The digital service will only work with a cable (set top) box. The set top box of the future will only have an HDMI output (no composite or component). The set top box will have maybe 500 hours of DVR capacity but no private DVR or DVD recorder manufacturer will ever make a device with an HDMI input. So the days of making your own VHS tapes or DVDs will be gone. If you want the DVD, buy it. Once you fill up the DVR in your set top box, you have to over write new stuff over old stuff. You can't save it anywhere. You can not make home recordings of VHS or DVD any more.

I have no idea if any of this is true or not. But if it is, one more reason for an HDMI input on a Pi board.

Hardware_man

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Re: Camera Interface Specs

Thu Jan 17, 2013 10:56 am

EdZ wrote:
jamesh wrote:Broadcom (very busy at the moment and will NOT be interested in the project - no money in it)
Opening up their SoCs to the DVR and video processor market has no money in it? Time to scrawl 'CLUE' on an inflatable squeaky mallet and go bob some Broadcom executives!

£30k-£50k dev costs are easily within range of a Kickstarter. Finding a few thousand 'Pi users (or potential users) willing to cough up a few quid for a user-programmable video recorder & processor shouldn't be too hard. Even if all it does is grab frames (over non-HDCP links), encode to h.264 and shove them over ethernet (in leau of USB3), the cheapest devices that do that cost around £200 (e.g. Blackmagic Intensity).
I doubt its that theres "no money in it" per se, its that its not Broadcoms market, and as such investing time and money in something for what is most likely a niche market, at best.

It does seem that there are a fair few people that have dreams of making things on the cheap and making their own business on the back of an educational device, and then "complaining" because it doesnt do everything they dreamt up.

Ultimately, if you want some sort of HDMI-in supporting video encoding or transcoding device, there is nothing stoping you making one, all the components and commercially licenses are out there, its just not economical for you.

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Re: Camera Interface Specs

Thu Jan 17, 2013 11:20 am

EdZ wrote:
jamesh wrote:Broadcom (very busy at the moment and will NOT be interested in the project - no money in it)
Opening up their SoCs to the DVR and video processor market has no money in it? Time to scrawl 'CLUE' on an inflatable squeaky mallet and go bob some Broadcom executives!

£30k-£50k dev costs are easily within range of a Kickstarter. Finding a few thousand 'Pi users (or potential users) willing to cough up a few quid for a user-programmable video recorder & processor shouldn't be too hard. Even if all it does is grab frames (over non-HDCP links), encode to h.264 and shove them over ethernet (in leau of USB3), the cheapest devices that do that cost around £200 (e.g. Blackmagic Intensity).
This SoC (and others from Broadcom) is already available, opened with all the bells and whistles, to the DVR and video processor market. If a company came to Broadcom and said "We want to use your chip in this device", and they came up with sales forecasts that made the effort cost effective to Broadcom, then Broadcom would most certainly be interested. But those sales figures would be to be pretty damn big (multi million sales per year). Because those are the sorts of numbers that Broadcom chips need to sell in to be cost effective to provide the support needed to implement. See Roku2 for a good example of this.

So, unless your sales forecasts are in the millions, then your squeaky mallet is going to impact on some rather uninterested heads.

Kickstarter could provide the funds of course, but who will you pay that money to, to actually do the job? At the moment, there is no company with the requisite tools and experience to do it except Broadcom.
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Re: Camera Interface Specs

Thu Jan 17, 2013 12:32 pm

So now that you've sold over a million Pis...any chance of an HDMI input forthcoming? :P

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Re: Camera Interface Specs

Thu Jan 17, 2013 1:33 pm

shields wrote:So now that you've sold over a million Pis...any chance of an HDMI input forthcoming? :P
Think about it for a moment...a million Pi's sold and Broadcom have ALREADY been paid for those. Broadcom would be interesting in projects that sell lots of chips only after the project hits the market. Anything before then is an irrelevance - it doesn't make them any money.

Now, from the Foundation's POV, selling a HDMI input adapter board WOULD be feasible, because the Foundation will make money from each board sold. So that installed base would be relevant. Whether enough would sell to make it worthwhile? Who knows? So far about 10 people here have asked for it...out of 50k forum members. Let's say that 1:5000 is an underestimate and it's nearer 1:1000. So, 1M Pi's sold, so 1k of those want HDMI in. Let's say dev costs are on the lines of £50k. That's £50 per person minimum to make back the dev costs, not including cost of the board itself, let's say another £30 in parts and manufacture. Puts the price up to £80. TBH, that's still a pretty decent price, and I haven't included future Raspi sales. So, a Raspi + adapter board would be a minimum of £100. Excluding any profit the Foundation would like to make. Most companies need to be about 30-50%. So that's £130->£150.

Not beyond the realms of possibility, but remember, it won't record any old HDMI, only unencrypted, so that is severely limiting. No BluRay output could be recorded for example, that's all encrypted.

All that said, the Foundation still doesn't employ anyone who could do the job.

CAVEAT: All the figures above are off the top of my head and do not represent any Foundation views on costing. They are entirely my own work, and could be wildly wrong.
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Re: Camera Interface Specs

Thu Jan 17, 2013 2:43 pm

Jamesh,

I really am trying to understand this all, both technical and economic. Based on what you just said, did you have to predict enough probable sales to do your camera project? If I understand this correctly, there are 3 levels of technical information:
1. Information Broadcom won’t give to anybody, not even their customers who are buying chips in the millions per year.
2. Information Broadcom will give to their customers, but not the general public. Broadcom customers need to sign an NDA stating they will not release any of this information.
3. Information available to the general public (primarily the non video parts of the chip).
Is this correct so far?
To do your camera project, was their code that only Broadcom (not a Broadcom customer) could write as only Broadcom has access to the necessary technical information? So before you could even consider the camera project, you had to convince Broadcom that you could sell “x” amount of additional Pi boards if you could sell an accessory camera? Then Broadcom wrote the low level code to be able to input the camera to the CSI-2 connector and give you some control over the video input processor so that you can tune your camera?

But with this, you can’t simply “call” a default “flat” tuning so that pre tuned input (from say a camcorder for example) could go “straight through” the video input processor to the H.264 encoder? If you wanted to input “pre tuned” video into the CSI-2 connector and go “straight through” the video input processor, Broadcom would have to write additional low level code that only Broadcom could write. So you would first have to convince Broadcom that you could sell “x” additional Pi boards if you could provide an accessory HDMI 2 CSI-2 board? Even with the capabilities you have to develop your camera accessory, you still don’t have enough technical information to go “straight through” the video input processor?

Is this the economic reality of providing a “general purpose” video input?

Hardware_man

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Re: Camera Interface Specs

Thu Jan 17, 2013 3:17 pm

Hardware_man wrote:Jamesh,

I really am trying to understand this all, both technical and economic. Based on what you just said, did you have to predict enough probable sales to do your camera project? If I understand this correctly, there are 3 levels of technical information:
1. Information Broadcom won’t give to anybody, not even their customers who are buying chips in the millions per year.
2. Information Broadcom will give to their customers, but not the general public. Broadcom customers need to sign an NDA stating they will not release any of this information.
3. Information available to the general public (primarily the non video parts of the chip).
Is this correct so far?
To do your camera project, was their code that only Broadcom (not a Broadcom customer) could write as only Broadcom has access to the necessary technical information? So before you could even consider the camera project, you had to convince Broadcom that you could sell “x” amount of additional Pi boards if you could sell an accessory camera? Then Broadcom wrote the low level code to be able to input the camera to the CSI-2 connector and give you some control over the video input processor so that you can tune your camera?

But with this, you can’t simply “call” a default “flat” tuning so that pre tuned input (from say a camcorder for example) could go “straight through” the video input processor to the H.264 encoder? If you wanted to input “pre tuned” video into the CSI-2 connector and go “straight through” the video input processor, Broadcom would have to write additional low level code that only Broadcom could write. So you would first have to convince Broadcom that you could sell “x” additional Pi boards if you could provide an accessory HDMI 2 CSI-2 board? Even with the capabilities you have to develop your camera accessory, you still don’t have enough technical information to go “straight through” the video input processor?

Is this the economic reality of providing a “general purpose” video input?

Hardware_man
1) No, customers who sign NDA's can get access to everything.
2) Correct
3) Any code that runs on the GPU - camera ISP, 3D, LCD drivers etc, is closed source.

My point was that if Broadcom were to supply someone to do this project , they would need to know they were going to get the money back on the engineering time AND make a profit. That is unlikely but not impossible, BUT take in to account that the engineers may be busy on other projects that make MORE money per engineer. Which they are at the moment. Broadcom would need to sell a lot of chips to make back engineering time, especially if that time is completing with projects that sell a hell of a lot more chips per engineer. (e.g. http://android.pandaapp.com/news/011420 ... PgVjORjl8E)


The software work would involve a low level 'camera' driver plus some higher level plumbing - no tuning, just passing the incoming HDMI grab to the rest of the system. Once the data is in the system it's no different to any other camera interface that doesn't need to use the ISP. However, those drivers are a PITA to get working properly, and would need to be done by experts at either Broadcom or the Foundation.
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Re: Camera Interface Specs

Thu Jan 17, 2013 4:13 pm

Sorry, I didn't mean to stir the pot...I've been following this thread and the back and forth. Thought I'd throw a little jab in there for fun.

But some sort of input would be awesome... ;)
(I bought mine with the intention of using it as a miniature DVR, without looking at the entire system and it's limitations) But I still plan on using it for a variety of other projects.

Thanks for all the work you guys do and for bringing to market such an awesome little system. I think one of these should be mandatory for every junior high and high school student for their first day of school, much like the IPad that's becoming mandatory.

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Re: Camera Interface Specs

Thu Jan 17, 2013 4:20 pm

shields wrote:Sorry, I didn't mean to stir the pot...I've been following this thread and the back and forth. Thought I'd throw a little jab in there for fun.

But some sort of input would be awesome... ;)
(I bought mine with the intention of using it as a miniature DVR, without looking at the entire system and it's limitations) But I still plan on using it for a variety of other projects.

Thanks for all the work you guys do and for bringing to market such an awesome little system. I think one of these should be mandatory for every junior high and high school student for their first day of school, much like the IPad that's becoming mandatory.
I'm not saying I think it's a bad idea - it's a great idea! Whether it's an idea that would be cost effective to implement is the question.
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Re: Camera Interface Specs

Thu Jan 17, 2013 5:57 pm

Jamesh wrote,

“Kickstarter could provide the funds of course, but who will you pay that money to, to actually do the job? At the moment, there is no company with the requisite tools and experience to do it except Broadcom.”

Jamesh later wrote,

“No, customers who sign NDA's can get access to everything.”

If the Foundation hired a sub contractor to write the code and that sub contractor signed an NDA with the Foundation, then the Foundation can give that sub contractor access to the intellectual property necessary to write the required code.

Hardware_man

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Re: Camera Interface Specs

Thu Jan 17, 2013 7:44 pm

If I may throw out a suggestion?

Forget Kickstarter....I'd be willing to bet if you had a Pay for Play project kickstarter system on your own website, you'd find out exactly what your 50K plus forum users wish list was and get it funded to boot. :idea:

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Re: Camera Interface Specs

Fri Jan 18, 2013 7:37 am

Hardware_man wrote: If the Foundation hired a sub contractor to write the code and that sub contractor signed an NDA with the Foundation, then the Foundation can give that sub contractor access to the intellectual property necessary to write the required code.

Hardware_man
Usually that sort of thing is not allowed by the NDA licence.
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Re: Camera Interface Specs

Fri Jan 18, 2013 4:09 pm

Jamesh,

I do a lot of contract circuit design and printed circuit board layout work. So I have signed a lot of NDAs. In all the NDAs that I have signed, the wording always states that I can not disclose any proprietary intellectual property of either the company who is commissioning me or any company that the company commissioning me has a valid NDA with. Basically, for the issue of intellectual property, I am a temporary employee (or “agent”) of the company who has commissioned me. So if company “A” has a valid NDA with company “B” and company “B” contracts me to do circuit design and / or PCB layout work and I sign an NDA with company “B”, it is the same as if I had signed an NDA with company “A”.

Maybe your NDA with Broadcom is worded differently. But that would be unusual if it were.

Hardware_man

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Re: Camera Interface Specs

Fri Jan 18, 2013 4:34 pm

Whether the Broadcom NDA allows the Foundation to subcontract or not (IANAL) - there are no people with the requisite skills outside of Broadcom that I know of.
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Re: Camera Interface Specs

Sat Jan 19, 2013 7:11 pm

Jamesh,

Any competent firmware writer who has access to the necessary documentation can perform this task. Plus, you have the added advantage that you already have your camera driver so that a firmware writer can look at it as a code example.

There are employment agencies that specialize in technical personnel (circuit designers, PCB layout people, firmware writers, etc.) for both direct hire and contract work. Here in the US we call them “head hunters”. You write up a job description and contact a technical employment agency. You might get several firmware writers to quote on the job. When you chose one, you have him (or her) sign an NDA with the Foundation.

I would like to quote on the circuit design and PCB layout.

Hardware_man

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Re: Camera Interface Specs

Sun Jan 20, 2013 9:33 am

Hardware_man wrote:Jamesh,

Any competent firmware writer who has access to the necessary documentation can perform this task. Plus, you have the added advantage that you already have your camera driver so that a firmware writer can look at it as a code example.

There are employment agencies that specialize in technical personnel (circuit designers, PCB layout people, firmware writers, etc.) for both direct hire and contract work. Here in the US we call them “head hunters”. You write up a job description and contact a technical employment agency. You might get several firmware writers to quote on the job. When you chose one, you have him (or her) sign an NDA with the Foundation.

I would like to quote on the circuit design and PCB layout.

Hardware_man
Well, as someone who works on this stuff every day, and spent some years getting the hang of it, I disagree with your statement completely. I am also perfectly familiar with how stuff like this works, so I suggest you refrain from trying to tell me my job. I' sure there are people out there who could do the job after the requisite training. But who does the training...and who supports them when they have questions? Broadcom, and they will want paying AS WELL. I know that, because I'm one of the people who does that technical support.

Feel free to quote. But you'll be quoting to yourself. Which is fine. But remember, Gert (of Gertboard fame) designed and build the Gertboard, on his own time and then went ahead and sorted out distribution etc off his own back. No funding from the Foundation. If you think this device is a good idea, feel free to do what Gert did. But don't expect the Foundation to contract you (or anyone else) in to do it.
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Re: Camera Interface Specs

Sun Jan 20, 2013 6:37 pm

I agree finding the right firmware writer isn’t an easy job. But it isn’t impossible either.

I had offered to do the hardware earlier in this thread. But without the firmware, it wouldn’t work. And even if I had the firmware expertise, without access to the documentation it wouldn’t be possible to write the firmware. So an HDMI video input can’t be done entirely outside the Foundation.

But I bet Samsung isn’t at the mercy of Broadcom. I’ll bet (don’t know for a fact), they have some of their own firmware writers writing code using proprietary Broadcom information.

I’m not trying to tell you how to do your job. But I don’t accept that only Broadcom could write the firmware and nobody else could do it. And if Kickstart would provide the funding, then there is no reason this has to be done later and can’t be done now.

Hardware_man

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Re: Camera Interface Specs

Sun Jan 20, 2013 6:59 pm

Hardware_man wrote:I agree finding the right firmware writer isn’t an easy job. But it isn’t impossible either.

I had offered to do the hardware earlier in this thread. But without the firmware, it wouldn’t work. And even if I had the firmware expertise, without access to the documentation it wouldn’t be possible to write the firmware. So an HDMI video input can’t be done entirely outside the Foundation.

But I bet Samsung isn’t at the mercy of Broadcom. I’ll bet (don’t know for a fact), they have some of their own firmware writers writing code using proprietary Broadcom information.

I’m not trying to tell you how to do your job. But I don’t accept that only Broadcom could write the firmware and nobody else could do it. And if Kickstart would provide the funding, then there is no reason this has to be done later and can’t be done now.

Hardware_man
Actually, Broadcom provide a large number of engineers to companies like Samsung when they use Broadcom chips. I know this, because, unfortunately, I spend a lot of time in S. Korea. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samsung_Ga ... _S_II_Plus)

I'm sure that there are many engineers, who, with the right training, could do the job. After all, when I started at Broadcom, I didn't know anything about the videocore. And now, 5 years later, I actually know some stuff! Nowhere near enough, but then knowing everything about the Videocore is actually impossible for a single person.
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Re: Camera Interface Specs

Mon Jan 21, 2013 6:04 pm

Jamesh,

I want to congratulate you for being on the team that wrote firmware for this Samsung smart phone as it has received many awards!

Honestly, the Pi board would actually be a good deal even if it didn’t have any video functions. I have paid more for just an Arm processor on a board (with just the essentials, crystal, 1 USB port, 3.3V regulator, I/O to header pins). With the Pi board, you get that, plus SD card, plus USB hub with Ethernet, plus a LOT of DRAM, plus documented audio encoders / decoders , plus an operating system.

Having all the video output functions then is a super plus. But the Broadcom SoC really is a video chip including an AMR, not really an ARM with some video peripherals thrown in. I hate to see all the video input functions and video encoders take such a “back seat” in the Pi.

Hardware_man

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Re: Camera Interface Specs

Mon Jan 21, 2013 7:55 pm

Hardware_man wrote:Jamesh,

I want to congratulate you for being on the team that wrote firmware for this Samsung smart phone as it has received many awards!

Honestly, the Pi board would actually be a good deal even if it didn’t have any video functions. I have paid more for just an Arm processor on a board (with just the essentials, crystal, 1 USB port, 3.3V regulator, I/O to header pins). With the Pi board, you get that, plus SD card, plus USB hub with Ethernet, plus a LOT of DRAM, plus documented audio encoders / decoders , plus an operating system.

Having all the video output functions then is a super plus. But the Broadcom SoC really is a video chip including an AMR, not really an ARM with some video peripherals thrown in. I hate to see all the video input functions and video encoders take such a “back seat” in the Pi.

Hardware_man
Actually, I'm on the team that did the SG2 PLUS, not the original S2, but I was also Broadcom project manager for a much better camera phone - the Nokia 808.

You are right - it is a GPU with a bolted on Arm - quite literally. The VC4 existed (2763), then Gert (amongst others) bolted on the Arm as an afterthought (2835). An excellent afterthought of course.

I don't think the video takes back seat -many people use them as media centres, and although its off to a slow start the 3D graphics side of things is started to get there. That stuff's more complicated though so takes longer to get the hang of.

But when the camera board comes out - I think that will be a bit hit.
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Re: Camera Interface Specs

Tue Jan 22, 2013 11:53 am

There is lot of back and forth here ...

Did anybody from the Foundation look into this? I mean whether they want to invest time into researching the possibility of directly doing that or supporting external dev?

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Re: Camera Interface Specs

Tue Jan 22, 2013 7:55 pm

I meant the video INPUT takes a “back seat”. As I said earlier, you really did make the video output “universal” with both composite SD on an RCA jack and HDMI. So you can use “anything” from the dusty old black and white (with an inexpensive modulator) to the new “gazillion” inch HDTV. And you made all of the decoder functions available to easily “call” in higher level code. So many people use the Pi as a media center to play all kinds of video files.

But the video input is different. It will only work with your proprietary camera. This is why I said the video INPUT takes a “back seat”.

Return to “Camera board”