Matrix Transform Imager Architecture for On-Chip Low-Power Image Processing
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Camera-on-a-chip systems have tried to include carefully chosen signal processing units for better functionality, performance and also to broaden the applications they can be used for. Image processing sensors have been possible due advances in CMOS active pixel sensors (APS) and neuromorphic focal plane imagers. Some of the advantages of these systems are compact size, high speed and parallelism, low power dissipation, and dense system integration. One can envision using these chips for portable and inexpensive video cameras on hand-held devices like personal digital assistants (PDA) or cell-phones In neuromorphic modeling of the retina it would be very nice to have processing capabilities at the focal plane while retaining the density of typical APS imager designs. Unfortunately, these two goals have been mostly incompatible. We introduce our MAtrix Transform Imager Architecture (MATIA) that uses analog floating--gate devices to make it possible to have computational imagers with high pixel densities. The core imager performs computations at the pixel plane, but still has a fill-factor of 46 percent - comparable to the high fill-factors of APS imagers. The processing is performed continuously on the image via programmable matrix operations that can operate on the entire image or blocks within the image. The resulting data-flow architecture can directly perform all kinds of block matrix image transforms. Since the imager operates in the subthreshold region and thus has low power consumption, this architecture can be used as a low-power front end for any system that utilizes these computations. Various compression algorithms (e.g. JPEG), that use block matrix transforms, can be implemented using this architecture. Since MATIA can be used for gradient computations, cheap image tracking devices can be implemented using this architecture. Other applications of this architecture can range from stand-alone universal transform imager systems to systems that can compute stereoscopic depth.