Because of its superior quality, JPEG 2000 has emerged as the standard of choice for the compression of high-quality video, including the transport of video in the contributing networks of television broadcasters. As a result, suppliers of video equipment have started adding JPEG 2000 encoders and decoders to a variety of transport solutions, supporting various interfaces and sometimes even using proprietary protocols.
JPEG 2000 supersedes the older JPEG standard and offers many advantages over its predecessor or other popular formats such as MPEG. By 2004, JPEG 2000 had become the de facto standard format for image compression in digital cinema through the Hollywood-backed Digital Cinema Initiatives (DCI) specification. The possibility of a visually lossless compression makes JPEG 2000 ideal for security, archiving and medical applications.
The broadcasting industry also took notice. Broadcasting and video service companies have huge amounts of live video that has to be transported to postproduction and streaming facilities within their so-called contribution networks, without delay or loss of visual quality. Of particular interest for the professional-video industry, therefore, is the possibility of a visually lossless compression—that is, a compression scheme that retains the image quality and still allows efficient storage and transport.
In addition, the other innovations in JPEG 2000 also meant a step forward for the broadcasting industry. Each frame in the video stream is compressed individually as a still frame, in contrast to MPEG formats, which compress frames in groups. This single-frame compression technique results in a low latency but also makes for easy per-frame post-processing and editing. A JPEG 2000 stream may also be partially decompressed and viewed, allowing different applications and viewing experiences from the same stream.
Another big plus is the resilience against transmission errors in the stream. If transmission errors cannot be corrected using forward error correction (FEC), the errors will have a smaller visual impact after decoding compared with other codecs. Finally, JPEG 2000 preserves the image quality even after multiple encoding/decoding processes, which is of capital importance in contribution networks with various stages of video management.
Starting in 2007, the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE) published a standard for video transport over IP, which has been expanded since. SMPTE 2022 includes, among others, IP protocols for constant-bit-rate video signals in MPEG-2 transport streams (SMPTE 2022 1&2 for compressed video and SMPTE 2022 5&6 for uncompressed video). Taking these specifications as its basis, the Video Services Forum in 2013 published its VSF TR-01 document, a technical recommendation titled “Transport of JPEG 2000 Broadcast Profile Video in MPEG-2 TS over IP.”
Any device that adheres to VSF TR-01 will take its input from an SDI (serial digital interface) signal, the legacy standard for uncompressed point-to-point video transport in the broadcast industry. The device will extract the active video, audio and ancillary data (for example, captions) and compress the video in JPEG 2000 format. The resulting stream is multiplexed into an MPEG-2 transport stream together with the audio and ancillary data.
In September 2012, even before the VSF recommendation was published, Xilinx and Barco Silex announced a partnership to develop video-over-IP solutions. Barco Silex took on the role of system integrator, matching cores from Xilinx (SMPTE 2022, SMPTE SDI, Ethernet MACs) with its own high-performance JPEG 2000 and DDR3 memory controller cores. The partners have now completed a reference design, composed of a four-channel transmitter-and-receiver platform. The transmitter is able to take up to four SDI high-definition (HD) streams (1080p30), optionally compress them with JPEG 2000 and send them over 1-Gbps (with compression) or 10-Gbps (uncompressed) Ethernet according to the VSF TR-01 standard.
The companies implemented the reference design in two platforms, one using the Zynq-7000 All Programmable SoC and the other using the Kintex-7 FPGA. But the blocks that are used can be integrated in solutions that address the complete range of OEM system requirements, from low-cost, high-volume applications to the most demanding high-performance applications. The intellectual-property cores that were used, such as Xilinx’s SMPTE 2022 and Ethernet MAC LogiCORE blocks, are available for the full range of Xilinx FPGA systems, up to the UltraScale level. For encoding and decoding, the reference design includes the Barco Silex JPEG 2000 encoder and decoder IP cores.
The companies showed a first generation of this reference design in a public interoperability demonstration during the annual VidTrans conference held in February 2014 in Arlington, Va. A few months later, Barco Silex demonstrated that the reference design could also handle 4K and ultra-high-definition (UHD) signals. The goal of the collaboration between Xilinx and video specialist Barco Silex was to leverage the power and flexibility of FPGA-based platforms in the professional-video market. By combining the JPEG 2000 cores of Barco and the transport cores of Xilinx, OEMs may produce and update standardized broadcast equipment quickly, making their products future proof in the process.