Ambarella has carved out a niche in video compression and image processing chips, generating $100 million a quarter in revenue. And today, the company is launching three new chips that will bring next-generation imaging features to cars, drones, virtual reality, and sports cameras.
Santa Clara, Calif.-based Ambarella showed off the three new chips at CES 2017, the big tech trade show in Las Vegas this week. Ambarella’s chips are already used in a lot of high-end drones from companies such as DJI and Yuneec, and the company has also supplied a lot of chips to makers of action cameras, like GoPro, as well as home security cameras.
“We’ve captured high-market share in the drone business, or, as we call them, flying cameras,” said Chris Day, vice president of marketing and business development at Ambarella, in an interview with VentureBeat. “Now we’re moving into our first electronic mirror application.”
The first chip being introduced today is the A9AQ, which can be used in electronic mirrors in cars. The chip is a camera system-on-chip (SoC) that can process 4K images from multiple still cameras or video recording systems. The A9AQ features an 800-megahertz dual-core ARM Cortex-A9 central processing unit (CPU) to handle imaging tasks in modern cars, from advanced driver assistance to user interface and wireless networking. The chip comes with a companion Serdes chip for high-performance video camera applications.
The single chip works with camera side-view and rear-view electronic mirrors, which show you a video of what’s behind your car as you back up. It has multi-exposure high-dynamic range (HDR) processing to provide visibility in low-light and high-contrast scenes. That means you may be able to see even if someone is shining LED headlights in your mirror. The mirrors are increasingly common in cars that assist drivers with tasks such as parking.
“It can take multiple video inputs to provide the output you need,” Day said.