8k Chip

8K CMOS camera chip developed in Japan


By James DeRuvo (doddleNEWS)

When Sharp unveiled an 8K HDTVat CES this year, it was a shining example of what was just lurking over the distant horizon.  And although there was very little, if any, content to showcase with, people were impressed.   But without a camera, what good is an 8K TV?  Well, even though 8K TV is years away, Japanese TV engineers have taken the next step, with an 8K CMOS chip for future video cameras.

The chip, which is the size of a current Super35 mm chip, was developed at Japan’s national broadcast corporation NHK in cooperation with Shizuoka University, and processes images at a resolution of 7680 x 4320 at 120hz.

How it works is pretty interesting.  The 8K CMOS processor takes in analog data and digitizes it at nearly the speed of light and provides a pure digital readout of the information.  It’s very similar to the process used by the Panasonic GH2 chip, only on a much grander scale.

And the chip is very power efficient, consuming only 2.5 watts of power.  An LED TV consumes 20 times that.   That’s a very important spec though as the more resolution an HD chip takes in, the more power it takes at almost an exponential scale.  So to keep the power curve low is beneficial when you’re talking about cameras being used in the field.

The spec of 8K created a stir at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, and at the IFA show in Berlin at a time when 4K is just starting to emerge as the next step in high definition television development.  It’s considered the Ultra High Definition, or UHDTV, standard that will succeed 4K, but experts believe that filmmakers and consumers won’t see 8K cameras for at least a decade or longer.  But the fact that engineers have developed a camera chip may mean that 4K could have a relatively short shelf life and become the 8 track tape spec of HDTV.

And if TV manufacturers get their way, that’s liable to be what happens.  If you recall, it was only a few short years ago that HDTVs with 1080p hit the market and within a year, manufacturers were pushing 3D in an effort to get consumers back in the stores.  Sales figures show that after a brief burst of record sales figures – presumably those upgrading their older standard definition TVs to High Definition – that sales began to plateau.  Since then, 3D has been the buzz word both in HDTV manufacturing, but also in Hollywood as both are pushing for content.

With 4K TVs now just starting to get everyone’s attention, and with  cameras like the RED EPIC and ARRI Alexa shooting content in 4K for theatrical release, we’re bound to start seeing a push towards 4K, leaving 3D in it’s wake.  And we’re betting the same will be true for 4K after 8K, especially when you consider Moore’s Law.  Moore’s Law states that the power of a computer chip increases exponentially every 18 months.  And judging how fast the HD spec has been growing, 8K could be around before the end of the decade.

About montyedits

San Francisco based film and video editor.
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