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NEC Provides High-Speed Image Compression Engine for Windows- High-speed processing of big data -

*** For immediate use November 5, 2012

Tokyo, November 5, 2012 - NEC Corporation (NEC; TSE: 6701) has begun providing a high speed still image compression engine, "StarPixel(R)," featuring low-load and high efficiency as a Windows DLL (*1) software.

Existing image compression standards with high compression rates, such as JPEG2000, require high processing loads that are a challenge for systems that require high-speed big data processing as well as compact devices whose power consumption is limited.  On the other hand, JPEG, one of the major image compression standards for consumer devices such as smartphones and digital cameras, has low processing loads but inferior compression rates compared to JPEG2000.

"StarPixel achieves a compression rate that is much higher than JPEG and equivalent to JPEG2000 by suppressing processing loads through image conversion and encoding procedures developed by NEC's Central Research Laboratories," says Akio Yamada, assistant general manager, Information and Media Processing Laboratories, NEC. "This enables large numbers of high-resolution images to be quickly stored and transmitted, in addition to enabling a reduction in the size, power consumption and cost of devices that take and display images. Furthermore, these technologies can be used with image systems operating in extreme environments, such as space and the ocean, while contributing to a wide variety of businesses, including the manufacturing, surveillance and medical fields."

StarPixel can quickly and easily be integrated with a wide variety of existing imaging systems as a Windows DLL software. Furthermore, NEC can be contracted to provide StarPixel engines or image viewers on a full range of platforms including Linux, iOS, Android and hardware circuitry.

Key features of StarPixel include the following:

  1. High-speed, high compression rate
    • High compression rates and accelerated processing are realized through image conversion and encoding procedures developed by NEC. Internal experiments using color images demonstrate that StarPixel's compression speed is approximately 10 - 40 times faster and its decompression speed (*2) is roughly 6 - 13 times greater than JPEG2000, while maintaining an equivalent compression rate (image quality).
    • Possible to maintain high resolution and to significantly reduce storage capacity when compared to JPEG while collecting and utilizing large-scale images.

  2. Supports a wide range of image processing
    • Supports both lossless compression (1/2 compression rate) and lossy compression (1/5 - 1/100 compression rate). Lossless compression restores original signals and is effective for analysis and diagnostic imaging when deterioration cannot be tolerated. Lossy compression enables high compression rates that can be adjusted in accordance with signal deterioration requirements.
    • Supports monochrome and RGB color as well as an option for Bayer pattern images (*3) from digital cameras, etc.
    • Supports color formats for general 8-bit as well as high precision 16-bit formats for medical and scientific analysis.

In recent years, the collection and analysis of big data through image sensors is gaining significant attention from a variety of industries, including manufacturing and distribution. As a result, the need for highly efficient image compression formats is also growing in order to reduce storage and transmission costs of big data processing systems, which are often required to process petabytes of data (1 petabyte = 1,000 terabytes). Moreover, a great deal of importance is being placed on low-load compression in order to provide compact imaging equipment with high speed processing. There is also heavy demand for compression formats that can efficiently store large quantities of high quality images from digital cameras and other devices in memory.

StarPixel satisfies these needs and NEC aims to leverage the technology in order to provide a variety of solutions that contribute to the efficiency of image related business operations.



(*1) Dynamic Link Library (DLL)
A DLL is a file type that features a collection of programs which are called by a range of different application software on Windows as needed.

(*2) Decompression  Speed
Decompression speed refers to the speed at which decompression takes place in order to return compressed files to their original condition.

(*3) Bayer Pattern Image
The Bayer pattern is a type of filter arrangement method used for capturing a color image with a single image sensor. In this method, an R,G,B filter is arranged in a checkered pattern, which differs from the arrangement methods used with typical computer screens and other devices.

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