You’re probably well aware of the digital-signage phenomenon, sometimes referred to as Digital Out-of-Home, or simply DOOH. The term describes those graphical displays that are now a familiar presence in many public spaces such as airports, shopping malls, hospitals, and restaurants.
As an engineer, I appreciate that integrated solutions targeting DOOH applications include high processing performance delivered with low operational power. The affordable, high-quality video available in the home has set expectation levels equally high for DOOH, mainly high-definition in large formats, at various aspect ratios.
But I also appreciate that flawless playback or even live streaming in full HD requires efficient decoding of digitally encrypted video data. Creating this user experience in an integrated solution demands industry-leading technology that’s evolved over many generations. Having looked around at what’s available to meet these requirements, the x86 architecture offers the industry’s best foundation on which to build advanced SoCs. The latest devices are more than capable of delivering the features needed by developers targeting DOOH. The AMD G-Series SoC is a prime example; based on the same microarchitecture as the higher performance AMD R-Series, the G-Series integrates the core competencies of the R-Series in a more energy-efficient dual-core configuration.
AMD’s G-Series SoCs integrate up to four compute units with 64 execution units in each for a total of 256 execution units, providing up to 30% more graphics performance and 15% more overall system performance than the previous G-Series, while still only dissipating 15 W maximum. This level of integration in a device that can run without the need for forced air cooling is unprecedented and is only now possible thanks to the latest semiconductor fabrication technologies. The new series also employs hardware accelerated decoding of the demanding H.265 codec, while simultaneously supporting two monitors with up to 4k (UHD) resolution (4096 by 2160 pixels at 60 Hz).
Digital signage isn’t just about streaming video content; DOOH relies just as heavily on advanced and engaging 3D graphics. The G-Series supports the latest 3D features of DirectX 12 and Open GL 4.4; features that are enabled by AMD’s Graphics Core Next (GCN) Generation 3 architecture.
Congatec has married the AMD G-Series to the popular COM Express format, to create the conga-TR3 COM Express Basic module. The format could have been conceived with DOOH in mind, but it is, of course, much more general-purpose than any single application area.
The production-ready conga-TR3 provides DOOH developers with a powerful and scaleable architecture. Alongside the highly integrated and capable G-Series processor, it offers a range of interface options including PCIe 3.0, Gigabit Ethernet, and USB 3.0. With support for the latest Windows versions and Linux, and an upgrade path to modules based on the AMD R-Series, it suits DOOH platforms nicely.