Brass Roots Technologies: Specialist IP Core-Powered Solutions
Brad Walker, CTO
A major digital projector manufacturer wanted to develop a product for the demanding commercial and military flight simulation market, only to realize that they had run into a brick wall, being as it was too specialized a piece of technology and a niche market to cater to in terms of the volume. Naturally, larger suppliers could not see much scope in this venture and declined. But just as Mercedes has AMG, BMW has M division and Lockheed its epitomic “Skunk Works®,” so exists Brass Roots Technologies—a technology solutions provider specializing in custom, high performance display and imaging systems. In this instance, Brass Roots Technologies married the best components of a standard DLP® chipset (Digital Light Processing by Texas Instruments, Inc.) with their own proprietary video processing technology.
The combination dramatically increased the data bandwidth of the display engine and provided flexibility upon which to develop features specific to the application. The product that ultimately emerged disrupted the simulation market by shattering established performance benchmarks for resolution, frame rate, bit depth and motion rendition. Application specific features, such as simultaneous RGB plus IR color processing that allows both daytime training (visible spectrum) and night-time training using night vision goggles, further heralded the product as a game changer. So far beyond the capabilities of its competitors that it was ultimately designated by the buying entity as the only approved display solution, which understandably resulted in enormous financial success for the manufacturer. “This is an excellent example of what becomes possible when standard products are enhanced with cutting-edge aftermarket technology; a healthy industry needs both–large mainstream-focused suppliers and a vibrant ecosystem of aftermarket specialized solutions providers that enable advanced and innovative development,” says Wayne Reynolds, VP Business Development.
Brass Roots Technologies’ in-house design team covers a wide range of skill sets, from systems engineering and optical/mechanical design to electronics hardware and firmware, as well as software and algorithm development. The company often gets involved at the earliest stages of development and works directly alongside its customer’s own development teams to architect and define system requirements and execute the custom design and integration work. In-house CNC machines provide rapid component fabrication for prototype assembly. “We can take a vision and quickly turn it into a full performance, production-ready prototype ready for hand-off to our customer’s manufacturing system,” says CTO, Brad Walker.
Wayne Reynolds, VP Business Development
The distilled essence of Brass Roots Technologies’ knowhow in video processing is their primary IP technology, the Gibraltar™ IP Core—a specialized firmware-based processing architecture optimized for modern field-programmable gate array (FPGA) fabrics. Gibraltar™ performs real-time conversion of video data into multi-toned floating-point bit-planes for Pulse Width Modulation (PWM)-based display systems, such as DMD projectors or direct-view LED Walls. A distinguishing feature of the Gibraltar™ IP Core is that it is explicitly architected for incredibly high bandwidth—50 Gbps+ sustained data rate. Gibraltar™ fills that data volume with exquisite processing to create displays with world-class image quality and minimal perceptual artifacts. Gibraltar™ has also been successfully applied to specialized industrial manufacturing applications in which ultra-high precision and linearity of UV light modulation is critically important.
Vast background knowledge and experience in display and imaging combined with a lean development model allows Brass Roots Technologies to quickly assess complex problems and identify the key challenges that must be overcome. “We leverage our systems experience to quickly evaluate possible solution paths and go from ‘mission impossible’ to active development in very short time,” adds Reynolds. The company’s creativity and experience combined with efficient operation afford a rapid development tempo highly valued by its customers.
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