Altera FPGA Shrinks Fairlight's Media Processing Engine

Sydney, Australia-based audio production systems expert Fairlight is applying the flexibility and digital signal processing (DSP) advantages of Altera(R) FPGAs to shrink an eight board, 64 DSP device-based design to a single, Stratix(R) FPGA-based PCI card.

“Our Crystal Core (CC-1) architecture demonstrates how Altera FPGAs deliver superior price-performance for DSP functions,” said Tino Fibaek, Fairlight’s chief technology officer. “Altera’s development tools helped make this project the smoothest engineering effort I have ever witnessed. We completed our development in one-third the time it would have taken to complete a DSP device-based architecture.”

Crystal Core technology obsoletes DSP/Time Slice Bus-based media processing architectures and delivers major performance gains while dramatically reducing hardware complexity and cost. When compared to competitive products, the CC-1 enables significantly improved signal processing quality, broader system capability and previously unattainable price/performance gains.

“This design demonstrates the superior flexibility and the signal processing advantages of FPGAs versus traditional DSP devices,” said Dr. Nick Tredennick, editor of Gilder Technology Report. “The reduced hardware complexity between the new and old systems offers important implementation and time-to-market advantages.”

Precision Processing for Separate Tasks
Fairlight uses the hardware flexibility of Altera FPGAs, rather than the fixed bit-width of DSP devices, to simultaneously run multiple processes at different bit depths. The company refers to this feature as Dynamic Resolution Optimization (DRO), which allows audio engineers to choose the best level of processing for each system task. With DRO, equalization processing can be performed at 72-bit floating-point precision, while mixing is performed with 36-bit floating point precision and metering functions at 16-bit fixed-point resolution. This provides greater performance at a lower system cost, resulting in notably enhanced audio quality.

Fairlight applies the FPGA’s programmability, enabling a universal hardware platform for a number of media applications requiring real-time audio and video processing power. For example, the CC-1 deployed for sound design activities can be redeployed as a high-definition (HD) video color grader and later be repurposed for a music recording session. For more information on Fairlight’s CC-1 capabilities, go to Fairlight will be exhibiting the CC-1 at the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) Convention, April 14 – 19, in Las Vegas, booth SL 4010.

About Fairlight
Headquartered in Sydney, Australia, Fairlight designs and manufactures media-creation tools including digital audio recording, editing and mixing systems for standard- and high-definition audio post, broadcast and music production applications. Fairlight’s DREAM II family includes Satellite, StationPlus, Constellation-XT, HD Factory and Anthem. The DREAM II series is powered by Fairlight’s breakthrough CC-1 technology, the world’s first FPGA-based media processing engine, which introduces Dynamic Resolution Optimization and delivers previously unattainable price/performance gains together with unprecedented speed, flexibility and exceptional sonic quality. The platform sets the benchmark in low latency processing.

About Altera
Altera’s programmable solutions enable system and semiconductor companies to rapidly and cost-effectively innovate, differentiate and win in their markets.

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