Cavium shows off fast wireless video

CES 2011: Sub-frame encoding

Cavium LogoCAVIUM WAS SHOWING off their wireless video codecs at CES, basically a low latency video streaming technology. It uses a fairly unique way of encrypting frames to minimize latency.

The chip is fairly simple in concept, it takes an HDMI stream in and outputs a Wi-Fi signal, or the other way around if you point it in the other direction. If you have two and point them at each other, you get low latency streaming.

How is this different from everything else out there? Easy, most codecs take a frame, encrypt it, send it, decrypt it, and display it. You can even buffer things and retry lost packets. This is great for video where a few frames of latency is not really noticeable, but for things like gaming or anything that moves a mouse, it is annoying.

What Cavium does is to sub-frame encrypt/encode/send, so they don’t have to wait the 1/30th or 1/60th of a second for the frame to complete before you begin working. This allows Cavium to achieve sub-20ms latencies on transmissions, quite a bit better than the full frame way.

The down side to this is that you can’t buffer and retry packets. If you don’t have a packet when it is needed, you get a glitch. Given the reliability of modern wireless connections in the home, I don’t think this will be much of an issue, especially if they take steps to account for it.

 WiVi Actiontec

WiVu logo and Actiontec box

Right now the technology, called WiVu, will do 1080p60 over 802.11n, good enough for most homes. It looks like a good solution, and it will be interesting to see how it works in practice. Actiontec was showing a WiVu box at the Cavium stand, so it won’t be long before that question is answered.S|A

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Charlie Demerjian

Roving engine of chaos and snide remarks at SemiAccurate
Charlie Demerjian is the founder of Stone Arch Networking Services and is a technology news site; addressing hardware design, software selection, customization, securing and maintenance, with over one million views per month. He is a technologist and analyst specializing in semiconductors, system and network architecture. As head writer of, he regularly advises writers, analysts, and industry executives on technical matters and long lead industry trends. Charlie is also available through Guidepoint and Mosaic. FullyAccurate