SoC, are we there yet?

Looking at SoC performance over the years in digital signage.
SoC, are we there yet?

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Invidis, in conjunction with signageOS, has conducted an independent evaluation on the performance of System on Chip (SoC) and the progress it has made over the years. The complete evaluation is featured in Business Critical Digital Signage 2022 Yearbook Digital Signage & DOOH released by Invidis at the end of June this year.

System on Chip (SOC) has been playing catch up with media players since its introduction by hardware manufacturers in 2013. SOCs are not only used to power the content playback, but the entire display. Unfortunately for SOCs, the negative image  from the past has stuck, despite the fact that “the latest generations are on par with Windows i5players”. 

Currently, SoCs are being used in a number of applications in a variety of sectors, however it is important to remember that not every SoC display can deliver the same level of performance. For this, it is important to understand the different generations of SoCs which are currently being operated. 

The SoC generations are as follows:

  • Gen 1 & 2 - plug and play without dated performance characteristics
  • Gen 3 - connected signage with large-scale control over devices
  • Gen 4 - business critical signage where content and timing of content is crucial

Currently, about 60% of SoC digital signage installations are Gen 1 & 2 with Gen 3 being in the phase of replacing 1 & 2 and Gen 4 gaining traction rapidly, especially in industries such as QSR, transport, and the health sector. 

SoC displays in 2022 can play multiple videos to render complex HTML5 content with transitions and overlay videos, and deliver advanced animations. The capabilities of the devices utilizing SoCs can also be extended with sensors and other peripherals. In a vast majority of cases, it doesn’t matter if SoCs or media players are used, however it is predicted that SoC will become the dominant solution for mainstream digital signage in the upcoming years.

To conduct these evaluations, both Invidis and signageOS lean on the skills and knowledge of the signageOS Research Center. The Research Center’s goal is to act not only as an essential resource for digital signage hardware analysis, but to drive innovation through cooperation with hardware manufacturers and other members of the digital signage industry. 

The evaluation of the hardware is based on a set of 30 to 47 performance test cases which mirror real-life applications. The tests are performed on physical devices which are provided by the manufacturers in the same condition as they would be when deployed in the field. The performance test cases are recorded with a high-resolution camera and evaluated for any dropped frames, lag, or video quality issues, after which they are evaluated and provided with a score by a subject-matter expert.

SoCs are highly optimized and specialized units and require a larger knowledge base and expertise when building a solution. This is where signageOS stands out as it has the developers and the knowledge to create solutions with various platforms, operating systems, and devices.  

SoCs are expected to become the mainstream digital signage solution in the future, and with the right developer skills are a powerful tool. signageOS can provide these skills, saving hundreds of developer hours, allowing you to concentrate on your core tasks.

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