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Your next drone or action cam will shoot 8K video, 4K at 240fps with Ambarella's new chip

CNET logo CNET 1/17/2021 Joshua Goldman
a circuit board: Ambarella © Provided by CNET Ambarella

Ambarella might not be as familiar a name as Intel, AMD or Qualcomm, but one of the company's video processors is likely in some device you own. At CES 2021, for example, one of its SoCs (system-on-chip) is in Alarm.com's new touchless video doorbell. For the conference, Ambarella announced its next-gen artificial intelligence (AI) vision processor that can record 8K video at up to 60 frames per second or four 4K video streams. 

a circuit board © Ambarella

Using 5nm manufacturing processes, the new CV5 SoC combines the chipmaker's AI engine, called CVflow, with dual Arm A76 CPUs and can handle things like encoding 8K video while using less than two watts of power. The processing capabilities and low power consumption make it perfect for battery-powered cameras. 

Small devices like action cams will be able to capture video at up to 8K at 30fps or 4K at 240fps. The CV5 will also support HDR processing to balance out extreme lighting conditions as well as do image stabilization, all on-chip. Its AI processing can simultaneously handle tasks like face tracking, time-lapse video and high-ISO photography. 

For 360 cameras like the Insta360 One X2, the processor will be able to handle dual 8K-resolution sensors. And, just like with action cams, shooting in HDR is possible and both image stabilization and stitching can be handled on the chip. Drones will be able to use the chip for photos and 8K video but also for features like object detection and avoidance, subject tracking and path planning. 

However, before you get too excited, it usually takes roughly a year for devices to be available using Ambarella's latest chips, said Christopher Day, Ambarella VP of marketing and business development. That means we might not see any cameras or drones with the CV5 until late this year or early 2022. But at least it's something to look forward to. 

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