Pulsent claims new compression scheme puts MPEG to shame
After toiling away in stealth mode for more than four years, Pulsent Corp. emerged with claims that its streaming media codec is superior to block-based MPEG as well as proprietary derivatives offered by companies like RealNetworks Inc. and Microsoft Corp.
Pulsent believes its technology, which aims to boost bandwidth efficiency by 400 percent over MPEG-2, is best suited for bandwidth-sapping applications like high-definition television, HD-capable DVDs and digital video recorders. The start-up's proprietary video compression treats parts of objects as single entities, tracking size changes, rotation and lighting changes.
That method enables Pulsent to deliver full-screen, broadcast-quality video at about 1 megabit per second, while MPEG-2 requires in the neighborhood of 4 Mbps.
Adityo Prakash, Pulsent's co-founder and CEO, acknowledged that emerging codecs such as MPEG-4 offer better bit rates (on the order of 20 percent) than MPEG-2 for low-quality video, but that savings plummet to about five percent when the video moves to broadcast-quality. Still, Pulsent's compression technology is designed to be compatible and run side-by-side with standard MPEG, he said.
Among applications for Pulsent's technology outside of HDTV, Prakash envisions its use in high-storage digital video recorders, digital cameras, "point-to-point" video-on-demand services and home networking devices. "We can get the storage increase without the high costs," he said.
Pulsent's cable strategy is to license its technology to set-top makers and headend equipment manufacturers. The company expects to complete its chip and reference designs this year, and to enter field trials in the first quarter of 2003.