Numato Opsis: FPGA-based open video platform

An open platform for recording, routing, and manipulating HDMI and DisplayPort video signals.

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The Numato Opsis is a powerful new FPGA-based open source video platform for videographers and visual artists. The Opsis board was designed to give the user complete control over high-speed video, enabling everything from real-time conference capturing solutions, to experimental visual art and even general FPGA-based video research.

As a collaboration between the live event streaming project and FPGA development board manufacturer Numato Lab, the Opsis is the ideal device for the video capturing firmware, which allows for fool-proof video recording from any computer. Enabling direct acquisition of video streams in realtime to a computer through the USB 2.0 interface or sent over the network through the Gigabit Ethernet interface, the Opsis is a vital component within the complete conference recording solution envisioned and pioneered by TimVideos.

Features & Specifications

  • FPGA:
    • Xilinx Spartan‑6 S6LX45T
  • Memory:
    • 256 Megabytes of DDR3-1600 RAM
  • HDMI:
    • inputs: 2
    • outputs: 2
    • resolution: 720p or 1024 x 768
  • DisplayPort:
    • inputs: 1
    • outputs: 1
    • resolution: up to 4096 × 2304 × 30 bpp @ 30 Hz
    • compatible with dual-mode DisplayPort / DisplayPort++ protocol
  • Storage:
    • microSD card holder
    • 128-Mbit SPI flash for configuration data
  • USB 2.0 Device:
    • Cypress FX2 chipset supported by fully FOSS toolchain
    • real-world transfer rates of 30-40 Megabytes/second
    • serves also as a USB JTAG programmer and a USB UART adapter
  • USB 2.0 OTG:
    • supports both host and device operation
    • compatible with many USB devices (e.g. keyboards and flash drives)
  • Gigabit Ethernet:
    • unique MAC address
  • Expansion:
    • TOFE
    • PCI-Express connector (not signal-compatible)
    • 19 differential, length-matched pairs
    • 3.3V and 12V power rails
    • I2C interface for expansion board auto-detection and configuration
    • dedicated I/O bank on FPGA reduces peripherals conflict
    • access to global clock signals
  • Dimensions:
    • standard mini ITX mounting
  • Default Firmware:
    • demo functionality; USB controller set to be a USB JTAG programmer
  • License:
  • Reference:

Example Applications

The Opsis is flexible and powerful enough to have a large number of use cases, many of which we probably haven’t considered. That said, we had certain use cases in mind when we designed the system.

Running Firmware

The Opsis was designed to run the HDMI2USB firmware developed by the project. This firmware makes it easy to build automated conference/event recording systems.

The diagram below shows one such simple scenario. The HDMI output from the laptop is fed into the Opsis, which forwards it to an external monitor and simultaneously allows another computer to capture the output via the USB 2.0 interface. The firmware emulates a standard UVC webcam, allowing any video software, such as Skype, Google Hangouts, or WebRTC, to then send it to an online audience.

A simple setup

A more complex scenario is shown below. The Opsis is used to feed the output from a presenter’s laptop onto both a large projection screen and a private “confidence screen” for the speaker (probably at the foot of the stage). The speaker’s dramatic facial expressions are also captured by a HDMI camera. Using the USB interface, a capture computer is able to switch between the two inputs and rebroadcast online.

A setup for recording a conference or user group

The firmware project has experimental support for using the Gigabit Ethernet interface as an alternative capture interface and is developing algorithms for hardware-based mixing and scaling, such as picture-in-picture.

General-purpose FPGA Development Platform for Video

In addition to running the HDMI2USB firmware, the Opsis can be used as a powerful FPGA development platform. The Xilinx Spartan-6 LX45T FPGA on this board can hold extremely large designs and can be used with the free Xilinx ISE Webpack software. The 2 Gbits (256 Megabytes) of onboard DDR3 SDRAM allow ample data storage accessible at high speeds. Onboard USB 2.0 and Gigabit Ethernet controllers allow high-speed, high-bandwidth connectivity to workstations and the network. With a USB host stack, the built-in USB OTG controller can connect to a wide variety of peripherals, such as keyboards, mice, cameras, and other USB devices. The programmable USB device controller can act both as a JTAG programmer and as a serial converter to be used as a debug console to assist development and debugging.

  • A: HDMI Out 1
  • B: HDMI Out 2
  • C: HDMI In 1
  • D: HDMI In 2
  • E: DisplayPort Out
  • F: DisplayPort In
  • G: USB 2.0 Device / JTAG Programmer / UART Adapter
  • H: Expansion Port (TOFE, not PCI-Express compatible)
  • I: microSD (underside of board)
  • J: USB 2.0 OTG
  • K: Gigabit Ethernet

Fun with High-Speed Transceivers

Opsis has four high-speed transceivers (officially known as GTP transceivers in Xilinx’s documentation) capable of running up to 3.2...

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  • 1 × Xilinx Spartan 6 S6LX45T
  • 1 × DDR3 RAM
  • 1 × Cypress FX2

  • Get paid to hack on hardware! TimVideos in GSoC

    Tim Ansell03/16/2017 at 02:51 0 comments

    Are you a Uni student who is interested hardware, FPGAs or embedded programming? You could get paid to hack by applying to the organisation for Google Summer of Code!

    Not a student? You can help us by sharing this post!

    The project is happy to announce that it is participating in Google Summer of Code 2017 (GSoC2017) and is looking for students to hack on the hardware used to record many open source conferences - including; many PyCons around the world, and DebConf.
    LCA2017 PyCon AU, pyOhio, Kiwi PyCon & PyCon ZA DebConf2016

    Part of the setup for recording LCA2017Due to the focus on hardware, we are very interested in students who are interested in things like FPGAs, VHDL/Verilog and other HDLs, embedded C programming and operating systems and electronic circuit/PCB design!

    ---------- more ---------

    This year we have joint project ideas with other hardware based groups who are also participating in GSoC2017 including;

    The apertus project The FOSSi foundation, and lowRISC.
    (GSoC page) (GSoC page) (GSoC page)


    Some examples of projects that is looking for students to contribute too are;

    Looking forward to seeing what this year’s batch of GSoC students create! You might even get to attend one of these conferences like some of our previous GSoC students.

  • 2016 New Year’s Resolutions

    Tim Ansell01/20/2016 at 04:21 0 comments

    This is cross posted from the website.

    Hello everyone,

    Hope everyone has had an awesome start to 2016 so far. As is tradition in many western countries, I thought I would put together some New Year’s Resolutions and reflect on our progress in 2015. I guess more business minded people might call it a “project roadmap”.

    TimVideos Project

    In 2015, I decided to focus the TimVideos project on the HDMI2USB project. The three key results of this focus were;

    With the success of this focus in 2015, the TimVideos project is going to continue to focus on theHDMI2USB project for 2016 (and I’ll go into more detailed goals shortly).

    The TimVideos project has also been mildly successful in collaborating with other open source groups doing things related to video recording and production. In 2016, I hope we can strengthen these bonds and forge new ones. Some specific goals around this include;

    HDMI2USB Project

    As we are concentrating on the HDMI2USB project, we have some specific goals around that.

    HDMI2USB firmware goals;

    • Refactor the HDMI core to allow support a wider range of interfaces, better debugging and addition of more features. A document about the refactor has been started here.
    • Add support for the high-speed GTP transceivers and Mike “Hamster” Field open source DisplayPort core.
    • Get Ethernet support working (on both the Atlys and Opsis boards). The two major Ethernet features are;
      • Ethernet supports identical capture and control feature set to the USB port.
      • Allowing HDMI2USB boards to act has “HDMI over Ethernet extenders”.
    • Support for more hardware;
      • miniSpartan6+
      • Digilent Nexys Video
      • New HDMI2USB designed hardware!
    • Stretch Goals (1)

    HDMI2USB hardware goals;

    • (By end of year) Development of a low cost PCI-Express capture card.
    • (By middle 2017) Development of an Opsis V2 based around either an high end Artix-7 or a low end Kintex-7 FPGA.

    (1): Stretch goals are things we plan to try and achieve if things go well.

    Hope this update give you an idea of what we have planned for 2016! We would love your help making it all possible.

    Tim ‘mithro’ Ansell

  • Announcing Stretch Goals!

    Tim Ansell09/27/2015 at 11:06 0 comments

    With the campaign already at 144% and still a little under 5 weeks left, we have been trying to come up with good ideas on how to keep the momentum going. We want to get the Opsis board into the hands of as many people as possible because it increases the number of cool things that happen. While we are certain that you all will continue to spread the word, we thought that some extra incentives couldn’t hurt!

    With that in mind, I’m happy to announce that with every 25 boards that are ordered as part of the campaign, a stretch goal will be completed, unlocking new purchase options or getting more stuff included with your Numato Opsis board.

    Goal 1 @ 25 boards - Crowdfunding campaign is successful and people get Numato Opsis boards
    Already completed, you all rock!

    Goal 2 - 50 boards - Unlock the “Low speed I/O” TOFE board for purchase

    While the Numato Opsis board has a massive amount of high speed I/O interfaces, it doesn’t include many features for interfacing with more pedestrian speed devices such as buttons or LEDs. To help solve this problem, we are currently designing the “Low speed I/O” TOFE board. While the board has yet to be finalized, the following features will probably be included;

    • An Arduino compatible pin header, allowing interfacing with most existing Arduino expansion boards.
    • Multiple PMOD headers, allowing interfacing with many existing boards from a wide range of manufactures, including Numato.
    • A number of indicator LEDs.
    • A number of push button and toggle switches.

    When more than 50 boards are ordered from the campaign, we’ll open up the purchase of this board for $25USD.

    Goal 3 - 75 boards - Unlock the “Milkymist Compatibility” TOFE board for purchase

    The Numato Opsis is already very similar to the Milkymist and Mixxeo devices created by M-Labs. It is however missing a couple of features those boards have. This TOFE board is designed to cover those remaining missing features and will include;

    • AC-97 compatible audio interface.
    • Two DMX512 (RS485) ports
    • MIDI IN and MIDI OUT ports
    • Infrared receiver and sender
    • RS232 compatible serial port
    • A number of push buttons

    When more than 75 boards are ordered from the campaign, we’ll open up the purchase of this board for $35USD.

    Goal 4 - 100 boards - Everyone gets a “Low speed I/O” TOFE board with their Numato Opsis board!

    If more than 100 boards are ordered from the campaign, we will have hit a large enough economy of scale that we can include one of the “Low speed I/O” TOFE board with every Numato Opsis board order.

    People will be able to add either one of the boards to their existing purchase for free. People who had already ordered the TOFE board will have the option of being refunded their money.

    I hope that gets everyone even more excited about the Numato Opsis board and what you can do with them. We really want to do all these things, so it is up to you to get the word out! The campaign page will be updated shortly.

    Tim ‘mithro’ Ansell (from TimVideos) and Tom (from Numato Lab)

  • Announcing the Numato Opsis Champion Program

    Tim Ansell09/25/2015 at 00:13 0 comments

    With the campaign already over 120%, we know that some of you are super impatient to get your hands on an Opsis board and might be happy to live on the bleeding edge. We have a limited number of “pre-production” boards left over from the prototyping run and rather than having them sit around collecting dust, would like to send them to people who will do cool things with them! Hence we are happy to announce the “Numato Opsis Champion” program.

    Order a Numato Opsis board at, then tell us about your project and why you can’t wait by filling out this Google Form before Friday, 2nd October ends AoE. The form has only 3 short questions for you to fill out! For the best entries, we will ship a pre-production board for free. As these boards are already manufactured, they will ship well before the campaign ends! Winners will of course also receive their ordered production board like every other backer.

    We don’t have any set criteria for evaluating the entries but are looking for people who are going to do something awesome or something which helps the community. Anything from helping write sample code, porting existing projects to the board, using the board for event capture or in some type of artwork or performance, to even just plugging the board into everything you can find are all potential winners. We are sure we haven’t even imagined some of the cool things you will come up with.

    As you will be receiving a pre-production Opsis, well before our planned shipping date, you need to be prepared to deal with things like incomplete documentation, missing or incomplete tooling and sample code, things which just plain don’t work. Please understand the ride will be bumpier than what people will get when receiving the production boards. These prototyping boards are functional but did require some small manual fix ups to work correctly (which have already been done by us) and are a bit rougher than the final boards.

    Look forward to hearing about all the cool things you want to do!

    Cheers, TimVideos & Numato Lab

  • Numato Opsis - Crowdfunding campaign reaches 100%

    Tim Ansell09/21/2015 at 13:51 0 comments

    Wow, you all rock! In under two weeks you all have gotten our crowdfunding campaign over the 100% mark.

    The goal has been reached a full month in advance before the campaign end, we are humbled by the overwhelmingly positive feedback and interest in the Numato Opsis.

    Thank you for all the support but the campaign is not over yet - we have just over 5 more weeks to go. We'd like to see the board get in the hands of many people as possible, so please continue to share it far and wide!

    Again, thank you.

    Tim ‘mithro’ Ansell (from TimVideos) and Tom (from Numato Lab)

  • Numato Opsis Crowdfunding Campaign!

    Tim Ansell09/21/2015 at 13:34 0 comments

    Numato Opsis is a powerful new field-programmable gate array (FPGA) video platform for videographers and visual artists, and is now crowdfunding on Crowd Supply. The open source Opsis board is designed to enable complete control over high speed video, for everything from real-time conference capturing solutions, to experimental visual art and even general FPGA-based video research.

    As a collaboration between the live event streaming project and FPGA development board manufacturer Numato Lab, it is the ideal device for the video capturing firmware, which was inspired by Bunnie Huang's NeTV project to tackle the idea of creating open capture hardware and allows for “fool proof” automated conference/event recording systems.

    Because the board includes the high-speed Xilinx Spartan 6, it has the ability to hold large designs and makes for a state-of-the-art FPGA development platform. It is also a powerful solution for video-based art or live video effects such as Video DJing, which carries on M-Labs' vision of the original Milkymist platform for visual effects. The Opsis is flexible and powerful enough to have a large number of use cases, many of which have yet to be considered.

    Specifications and Feature Highlights:

    • Four high speed transceivers (known as GTP transceivers in Xilinx's documentation) capable of running up to 3.2 Gb/s per transceiver
    • Four independent HDMI ports (720p or 1024x768, two in, two out) which are fully user controllable (e.g. virtual disconnect and remote control)
    • 12Gbit/s aggregate bandwidth
    • DisplayPort in and out with 12Gbit/s (compatible with DP++)
    • High speed communication with Gigabit Ethernet (verified at 117 Megabytes/second).
    • High speed communication with USB 2.0 (verified at 40 Megabytes/second)
    • Large Spartan 6 FPGA (S6LX45T) with 256 Mbytes DDR3 memory
    • Large, high speed expansion interface, with 19 differential pairs broken out to a PCI-Express connector

    “Over the past four years building the project, we found ourselves limited by proprietary video solutions and unable to do everything we wanted,” said Tim Ansell, co-creator of the Numato Opsis. “As an open source contributor since 1999, I saw the opportunity to build a flexible, fully controllable open source solution that could eliminate the 10 minutes at the start of every talk where the presenter fiddles with their laptop. What we’ve ended up with is an FPGA that can do that, and so much more. ”

    Numato Opsis is crowdfunding its first production run on Crowd Supply, the collaborative commerce platform for open hardware, with a minimum goal of $8725 US. Because of the close partnership with its manufacturer, Numato, the scheduled ship date of December 2015 has little risk for delay.

    Complete details about Numato Opsis area available on the crowdfunding page, or view the developer documentation here or on GitHub. The complete hardware schematics and design files can also be found on GitHub.

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Adam Fabio wrote 09/24/2015 at 16:22 point

Oh nice! Another FPGA based board for me to drool over!  Awesome work Tim!

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