12 megapixels, 720p HD video for your cellphone
Hardware Features

12 megapixels, 720p HD video for your cellphone

Wolfgang Gruener

Irvine (CA) – Broadcom has begun sampling a new multimedia processor which the company claims will enable cellphones and portable media players to integrate 12 megapixel digital cameras and 720p high definition video playback.

A new generation of multimedia chips for portable devices is knocking on our doors: While mainstream digital cameras are playing the 10+ megapixel range these days, and we are slowly getting used to high definition video playback on our TVs, mobile multimedia devices aren't that far behind.

Broadcom said that it recently has begun sampling its new BCM2727, based on the firm's new VideoCore III multimedia processor. Provided the required CMOS image sensors are combined with the chip, the VideoCore III can process images with a resolution of up to 12 megapixels. The chip's performance tops out at 144 million pixels per second, which, at least in theory, allows a BCM2727 equipped cellphone to support up to 12 12-megapixel images being shot per second.

Besides coming with 3D graphics capability, the VideoCore III also can encode and decode video at 720p resolution at 30 fps and H.264 main profile compression. Broadcom claims that the BCM2727 does that at similar power levels of chips integrated in cellphones today. According to the manufacturer, the chip consumes about 450 mWatts while simultaneously recording 720p video and audio streams and about 270 mWatts during HD video playback. Handsets can support more than 5 hours of high definition video playback or around 3 hours of HD recording using a standard-sized cellphone battery, the company said. Content recorded on the cellphone can also be played on TVs via a supported HDMI 1.3 or analog interface.

Audio playback is rated at a power consumption of less than 10 mWatts, which, according to Broadcom, can result in audio playback times of more than 60 hours on standard cellphone batteries.

While the BCM2727 is available to handset manufacturers today in sample numbers for about $15, cellphones with such HD capability aren't expected to be available anytime soon. Design and development cycles in the industry are about 18 to 24 months, which means that a 12 megapixel phone could be available in the second half of 2009 at the earliest.