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The claimed size and cost advantage would extend to AMD's next-generation 64-bit processors, with Ruiz stating that the upcoming ClawHammer family would measure 64sq. mm when using a 0.9-micron process technology.

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The claimed size and cost advantage would extend to AMD's next-generation 64-bit processors, with Ruiz stating that the upcoming ClawHammer family would measure 64sq. mm when using a 0.9-micron process technology.

If your system runs a PC operating system such as Windows and uses at least a laptop-class processor, the choice is easy-use a software codec. For example, we offer a free Active-X control or stand-alone player for Windows. We have also achieved good results with a software player for WinCE devices such as the iPAQ PDA.

Of course, performance depends on the image format and bit rates used. Philips has obtained good results with QCIF video on a 206-MHz StrongARM and with CIF content on a 300-MHz Pentium. We are also investigating porting MPEG-4 software decoders to processors for mobile devices.

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For a set-top box or Internet appliance, cost constraints usually dictate a more modest processor, but the product's fixed functionality makes a coprocessor or DSP design attractive. For example, MP4Net offers an MPEG-4 decoder library for the TriMedia TM1300 processor that can render megabit MPEG-4 streams.

Several companies have announced design models or IP cores for embedding a decoder in a custom chip or perhaps a field-programmable gate array. Beyond that, several semiconductor companies are developing decoders and codecs as standard chip products, primarily for mobile handset use. These typically process QCIF-resolution video with power consumption in the 50- to 100-milliwatt range.

In determining which solution to use, consider these questions:

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On a wireless network, there is no guarantee that MPEG-4 streams will arrive uncorrupted at a client terminal or phone. Here are potential problems:

Several schemes permit MPEG-4 to deal with varying bandwidth. The simplest is stream switching, where a user transitions to an MPEG-4 stream encoded at a lower bit rate when his channel degrades. Proprietary formats on the narrowband Internet use similar techniques. Yet another option is temporal scalability, where a switch is made to a stream with similar spatial resolution, but a lower frame rate.

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A sophisticated approach is fine granular scalability, where the encoded content is divided into a low-bit-rate base-layer stream and an enhancement stream containing high-frequency or temporal detail in numerous small elements, which may be sent independently to fill the instantaneously available bandwidth. Vendors have discussed transcoding, or encoding content in real-time for each user to adjust the bit rate to his or her channel.

MPEG-4's advantages also lie in its incorporation of a framework to allow a mobile terminal's decoder to quickly resynchronize if the bit stream is interrupted by transmission errors. With earlier standards, an interruption in the bit stream required the decoder to discard information until the arrival of the next I-frame, causing the video to freeze” for up to several seconds. MPEG-4 includes bit-stream resynchronization tools that allow a decoder to recover from data loss within the same frame, allowing it to better conceal transmission errors.

But if you don't have your own storage or you don't possess enough to accommodate the number of recordings you wish to archive, don't hesitate to ask a vendor for assistance.

We offer the ability to use network-attached storage,” says Bob Jagendorf of Mercom. Most of our clients are using DVDs [digital video discs] provided by us.”

Regardless of the storage you use, make sure it is permanent, reliable and legally viable. Call centers, says Jagendorf, usually need to archive in a medium that's permissible in court.”

Get the Scoop

Here is where to go to start conversations and correspondence with the developers of call monitoring systems mentioned in this article.

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