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Dave (“Tear it apart!”) Jones rips lid off of an Epiphan AV.io 4K HDMI-to-USB Video Streamer and finds… an Artix-7 FPGA!

Xilinx Employee
Xilinx Employee
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Like tens of thousands of other fans, I just love watching EEVBlog’s Dave Jones tear apart electronic products that people randomly send him in the mail. Dave’s motto: “Don’t turn it on. Take it apart!” (Be sure to use the appropriate Australian accent when you say it.) Sometimes, like yesterday, there’s a Xilinx-flavored Easter egg in the video. This week’s EEVBlog Mailbag segment includes a short review and teardown of the $399.95 Epiphan AV.io 4K HDMI-to-USB 3.0 Capture Card.



Epiphan AVio 4K Capture Card 2.jpg 


To my surprise, when the covers and the heat sink came off, there on the board was a Xilinx Artix-7 A50T FPGA paired with an Analog Devices ADV7619 HDMI receiver. Below is Dave’s 55-minute Mailbag video from this week. The AV.io 4K HDMI Video Capture Card review starts at 15:35 in the video. You’ll want to watch just to see the Crocodile Dundee knife Dave uses to open his mail.





(As Dave would say, none of this 3-minute YouTube video rubbish. Hour-long videos—those are real videos. The fact that more than 35,000 viewers have watched this video within the first 24 hours attest to Dave’s Ozzie wisdom.)


Let’s cut to the chase, shall we? Below is a screen capture from the video when the chips on the AV.io 4K HDMI Video Capture Card’s board are revealed under the thermal paste.



Epiphan AVio 4K Capture Card Circuit Board.jpg



Epiphan AV.io 4K HDMI Video Capture Card circuit board with Xilinx Artix-7 A50T FPGA



So what’s the Artix-7 FPGA doing in the AV.io 4K HDMI Video Capture Card? The Analog Devices ADV7619 HDMI receiver translates and splits the HDMI signal—in any of twelve configurable capture resolutions ranging from 640x480 to 4096x2160 (it also adapts to other resolutions)—into component video and digital-audio streams. The Artix-7 FPGA then performs real-time video hardware scaling with “near-zero” latency to convert the digital video to any of ten output resolutions—from 640x360 to 4096x2160—and then sends the resulting video and audio streams into a USB 3.0 chip for capture by a USB video-recording device or PC. The FPGA also resamples the HDMI audio to output 16-bit stereo audio at 48KHz.


You can’t do that sort of real-time, near-zero-latency video scaling and conversion with a microprocessor. Way…too…slow. You need fast, “grunty” hardware like the programmable logic in the Artix-7 FPGA to perform “all the magic.”



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