Nowadays multimedia applications emerge on portable devices everywhere. These applications typically require a high amount of computational power together with real-time performance. Another requirement is that they must be reconfigurable i.e. that the application or the characteristics of the application can be modified at will.
The performance requirement often drives the design towards a hardware implementation while the reconfigurability requirements are better served by a software implementation.
We try to reconcile these two requirements by exploring a third implementation option: FPGAs. By using an FPGA we can achieve both the performance and the flexibility that is needed for multimedia applications. In the RESUME project we are designing a scalable wavelet video decoder as a proof of concept.
In this article we explore through analytical means the question of whether an FPGA implementation can be used to reach the performance goals. We find that modern FPGAs offer enough computational power to obtain real-time performance, but that reaching the necessary memory bandwidth will be a challenge.