Digilent High Definition Video Platform: Showcased in International Conference

In December 2015, we invited Mr. Michael Field (who is one of our favorite people from the Forum) to showcase his high-definition video applications on Nexys Video and Genesys 2 at the International Conference on Field-Programmable Technology (ICFPT) held in New Zealand. ICFPT is a premier conference in the Asia-Pacific region on field-programmable technology. We were glad that Michael could share his fabulous work with other experts in the field. His project is detailed below!

Mandelbrot set on Genesys 2

The Mandelbrot set is well-known for fractal geometry. Mike implemented the Mandelbrot sets on the Genesys 2 to create real-time images, and shared the project in Digilent Forum Project Vault . The project uses about 100,000 flip-flops, 150,000 Look-Up Tables (LUTs), and 640 Digital Signal Processing (DSP) slices on Xilinx Kintex 7 FPGA. In this project, there isn’t any frame buffer, meaning that each pixel is recalculated every time. Additionally, Mike used the FPGA processing power to do the iteration and generate the Mandelbrot image. He also used Mixed Mode Clock Manager (MMCM) in Xilinx Vivado to generate various clocks in the system. This project is an upgraded version from Nexys Video.

Mandelbrot set, but using the Nexys Video.
Mandelbrot set, but using the Nexys Video.

4K resolution on the Nexys Video

DisplayPort is a digital display interface developed by the Video Electronics Standards Association (VESA) and is primarily for computer and peripheral video connections. Many people compared the DisplayPort with the popular High Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI). Although both of them are digital display interfaces, there are lot of differences in terms of connectivity and specifications. The article “HDMI vs. DisplayPort: Which display interface reigns supreme” from PC world lists these key differences  For example, HDMI can drive only one display at a time. A single DisplayPort interface can support multiple monitors with each display receiving independent audio and video streams.

4K resolution (also just referred to as 4K) refers to a display device or content having horizontal resolution on the order of 4,000 pixels. This resolution standard has become very ubiquitous. You can see many TVs are 4K resolution.

Mike fed a 1080p HDMI movie to HDMI input port of the Nexys Video and then output video signals to a mini-DisplayPort and to the DisplayPort input of the 4K monitor. The video is displayed in 2160p (3840×2160) at 30Hz. The whole design is in VHDL with the following configuration processes. He shared the project here!

Here is the breakdown:

  1. Sink (video receiver) is detected.
  2. Extended Displayed Identification Data (EDID) from the sink are read by the video source to know the sink characteristics.
  3. Configure the desired channel settings. This is where you tell the sink how many channels you will be using, and what the coding on the link will be.
  4. Power the transceiver.
  5. Start clock recovery training. A “1010101010” symbol is transmitted on all links, and then the sink is monitored to see if it is being received OK, and what adjustments it would like to be made (e.g. increased voltage swing).
  6. Switch to alignment training. A special sequence of 10 symbols is transmitted on all links
  7. Switch to idle pattern. Once the main links are all trained and aligned, the source must start sending the idle pattern. This is a special “nothing going on” sequence that keeps the channels alive.
  8. Switch to main video signals. Once the idle pattern has been sent, the source can switch over to the active video stream.
  9. Watch the link. Should for any reason the sink require the source to take any action it will waggle the Hot Plug Detect signal for about a millisecond. On seeing this the source should read the link status registers and take any required actions.
Nexys Video & Genesys 2 showcased in ICFPT

We are happy that Mike attended and enjoyed the conference. He remarked, “The quality and accessibility of the presentations was extremely high – if you ever get the chance to go to an ICFPT or similar conference I can’t recommend it enough!”  Due to Mike’s generosity and amazing work, Digilent users now can implement high-definition video processing more easily. Thank you, Mike, and everyone else who made the conference possible!

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