Irish startup trials mobile video-editing chip

Movidia has announced working prototype silicon for its mobile-phone processor that enables in-place video editing.
Written by Rupert Goodwins, Contributor

Irish startup chip company Movidia has raised US$14 million in venture capital, the company announced today. It also announced working prototype silicon for its first product, a mobile-phone processor for in-place video editing, aimed at social networking. Production quantities are due in the second half of next year.

"Current platforms don't have the capability to do video editing on mobile phones," chief executive Sean Mitchell told ZDNet Asia's sister site ZDNet UK. "They need significantly higher throughput at the same power envelope as today, and that's what we're targeting."

"People are creating a lot of video content on their phones, but having to go to the PC to edit it. That's holding them back. The top-tier [mobile] phone guys are very keen to get the PC out of the loop." When asked how the limitations of screen and controls would affect video editing on a mobile phone, Mitchell was sanguine: "We're not talking about pixel-level editing, just setting start and end point, and apply an effect. The interaction will be pretty straightforward."

With headquarters and chip designers in Dublin, software development in Romania, and sales, marketing and manufacturing in Hong Kong, the company is aiming for the global market. Mitchell said raising the venture capital for this stage of the company's growth was harder than he had expected when the company started in 2005. "The environment's pretty tough at the moment," he said. "As a consequence of that, there are fewer players active right now for this stage. It took longer than we hoped, but we got a strong engagement across the board. It's a good testament to our plans that we can raise that level of funding. We're quite proud of that."

Mitchell declined to give technical details or pricing for the new chip, but said the aim was to provide much better video-processing capabilities, including real-time processing of streaming video, without increasing the cost to the manufacturer or substantially affecting battery life. "We're not targeting any increase in the bill of materials," he said. "If you added our chip to an existing platform, then that would cost more, but our chip will also replace some other existing functions."

The company would also be providing all the low-level software needed to make the chip work, he said. "We're not opening up the package, you'll have to take our software. We'll plug into any of the common frameworks, but we won't be providing any open source, just providing APIs and delivering binaries. We see this as the easiest way to get into the market. It remains to be seen whether we support a developer community in the long run."

With details of the new chip due next year, Mitchell said the company was more than aware of the possibilities beyond mobile devices, but that initial focus would remain on phones. "We have plans to target other functions and we have discussions with people across a number of different platform areas. Performance at low power has become more of an issue, even in tethered devices, so there's an interest across the board, but we're concentrating on mobile video. That's hot."

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