Qualcomm’s vision of the second generation of the Spectra ISP is a preview of the capabilities of the next Snapdragon 845 SoC model. The new image processor supports high resolution scanning of depth information in real-time, and employs new filtering techniques for better picture and video quality.
The new Image Signal Processor of the second generation is a complete new development of Qualcomm and follows the first Spectra ISP in the Snapdragon 820 as well as its expansion stage in the Snapdragon 835 (test) and offsets in smaller Snapdragon solutions. ” Powerful, energy-efficient image processing plays an increasingly important role in future mobile application scenarios,” said Tim Leland, vice president of product management at Qualcomm.
Still, the first product that will use the new ISP has no name. However, Qualcomm has said that the image processor will be used in the next generation flagship SoC. The fact that this system-on-a-chip will be the new Snapdragon 845 Mobile Platform is a long-aired secret. At least since March was on a developer website of Qualcomm the abbreviation SDM845 to find, most recently emerged in the currently ongoing patent dispute with Apple again and was taken a short time later offline.
High-resolution acquisition of depth information
One of the biggest changes for the new ISP as well as the Spectra Module Program, which specifies possible camera modules in a terminal as well as possible combinations of modules to simplify the development of manufacturers, is the support for passive as well as high-resolution active determination of depth information. The latter is suitable for a more precise recognition of faces, the 3D reconstruction of objects in poor light conditions as well as more accurate simultaneous measuring of rooms as well as the position determination in these.
For the active acquisition of depth information, Qualcomm uses infrared radiation (IR illuminator) and an infrared camera. According to Qualcomm, the IR illuminator has a range of three to four meters. The infrared camera captures more than 10,000 pixels with a distance of 0.1 millimeters, which should be a conservative indication. According to Qualcomm, this is currently the most precise solution on the market. A high-resolution map with depth information is created from the information obtained. The result can be viewed in real-time and three-dimensionally from different perspectives.
The information obtained can, for example, be used to further secure the biometric unlocking of the smartphone by capturing the face more precisely and testing it better for liveliness. As part of the expanded Spectra Module Program, Qualcomm also supports OmniVision’s special IR modules for iris recognition. In classical photography, the calculation of the depth of field (bokeh) could be implemented better than before. Depth information also plays an important role in VR and AR applications. A self-sufficient HMD with 6DoF tracking could use the new ISP to measure the space more precisely and, based on this information, determine the position of the carrier in it.
Better quality for photos and videos
In addition, the new Spectra ISP offers a number of functions that should have a positive impact on the quality of photo and video recordings. For photos, support for multi-frame noise reduction is new. In this type of noise reduction, filtering is applied to different areas of several frames, which ultimately are combined for a qualitatively better end result.
Motion Compensated Temporal Filtering (MCTF) is supported in conjunction with hardware-accelerated electronic image stabilization. This method results in a clearly more stable image with less noise and a generally higher quality.
Debut at the end of the year at Snapdragon 845
Qualcomm would like to present additional capabilities of the new Spectra ISP separately at a later date. The full announcement of the Snapdragon 845 is expected at the end of the year in December, with initial information for the public at the beginning of 2018 within CES.