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We’re going to take a wild guess and say you’ve been in a meeting before. Maybe it was a virtual meeting—but those never really feel the same in person, do they? Attending a virtual meeting can feel cold and impersonal, especially since you can barely see everyone else. Everyone is there except you—and even then, saying you’re “there” is a bit of a stretch.
Nowadays, though, there’s technology to remedy this problem. Panoramic video systems fill this need by providing 180 degrees of video field range—and the newest offering from Altia Systems has so much more than just that: it is the world’s first 4K Plug-and-Play USB camera system, the PanaCast 2. It delivers ultra-fast video with a natural human perspective, and in two years, has grown to over 1400 customers in 41 countries.
This thing has some serious specs: 300 million pixels, more than eight processors, 30+ patents behind its creation, and three imaging sensors—all for under $1000 a unit. Each camera has an angle of overlap that allows it to cover a 180-degree range, and those views are stitched together with an image stitching algorithm that pieces together the final video in 5 milliseconds. It’s UVC compliant, works right after plug-in, and is compatible with cloud or on-premises conference services.
Figure 1: The specifications of the PanaCast 2
So: how do you build something like this? Well, the parts are certainly complicated enough. You need a built-in AI for anti-aliasing, minimal distortion and a natural perspective to ensure a comfortable image, and everyone needs to be in the conversation—you’ve got to be able to see everything, and that means 100% space utilization.
That’s a serious task for the verification engineers—but luckily for them, Altia Systems used Xcelium Parallel Simulator for this, and got it done fast.
The PanaCast 2 required an exceptionally complex test bench—with between 3-6 image sensor models, multiple MIPI interfaces, and DDR3/DDR4 models. On top of that, each frame of video is quite large, at between 2-8 megapixels each. The design also contained a complex mix of Verilog, SystemVerilog, and Netlists, alongside several gate-level macros within a Xilinx FPGA.
Those engineers had quite the job ahead of them.
With Incisive, it would take 5-6 hours to simulate each frame; 19 hours if we’re talking about the 3 – 4 frames needed for video verification. On top of that, exported waveform files were 50 GB, creating a real strain on data storage.
Altia Systems worked with Cadence AEs to help pare down their load; bringing those waveform files down to between 1 and 10 GB, and achieving a 1.25x speedup on their single-core simulation needs right out of the box using Xcelium.
So: what’s next for Altia Systems and their journey with Xcelium? They expect that their performance needs will vastly increase. Frame sizes are going to go from 2 megapixels to somewhere between 13 and 16; plus, there’ll be new features and DSP cores for the next generation of cameras.
To help, they plan to use some of the sweet new features Xcelium brings to the table: Save/restart functionality will give them checkpointing, to help speed up their debug turnaround. Multi-threading and multi-core waveform dumping will give them extra info to look at. Lastly, Xcelium’s famous multi-core speedup will be put to the test.
Altia Systems has only scratched the surface of what Xcelium can do for them with the PanaCast 2—as Altia Systems moves on to their next endeavors, the unmatched power and speed of Xcelium can only send them to new heights.