Guide to understanding Machine Vision interface standards

Machine Vision standards have evolved providing defined models of how industrial cameras communicate to a PC allowing easier implementation of machine vision technology. Vision systems can be made up of cameras, frame grabbers and vision libraries from various manufacturers. The vision standards provides compatibility between the various manufacturers for easy implementation.

Machine vision applications require some basic tasks of finding and connecting to the cameras, configuring parameters, acquiring images and dealing with events to and from the cameras.

machine vision interface  - GENICAM

In order to provide cameras from various manufacturers to work together with 3rd party software and hardware from other manufacturers and provide the tasks above, a standard must be followed. “GenICam” is the basis for this standardization, providing compatibility using a Generic Transportation layer and Generic Application programming interface. These are referred to as “GenTL” and “GenAPI” respectively. GenTL provides the communication layer and GenAPI enables camera features to be configured by analyzing a compliant XML file for the camera.

Camera manufacturers however provide unique independent features providing various advantages from one to another. Creating these unique features blur the lines of the standard, not always making a camera fully compatible with another manufacturers software. For example, an industrial camera may use the GenTL layer to be recognized but may have special features making it unique as well.

This can be very confusing to understand! IDS Imaging has a white paper explaining the machine vision interface standardization, GenTL, GenAPI and the system architecture . CLICK BELOW NOW TO DOWNLOAD!

Download here
Click to download

1st Vision’s sales engineers have over 100 years of combined experience to assist in your camera selection.  With a large portfolio of lenses, cables, NIC card and industrial computers, we can provide a full vision solution!

Ph:  978-474-0044  /  info@1stvision.com  / www.1stvision.com

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What is the fastest 2.4MP GigE camera at the lowest price point? Dalsa’s new Nano M1950 / C1950!

Dalsa Nano

Dalsa NanoTeledyne Dalsa has released the latest addition to the Genie Nano family.  Introducing the Nano M1950 and C1950 cameras using the Sony Pregius IMX392 image sensor.  This is a great replacement for older Sony ICX818 CCD sensors.

These latest Nano models offer 2.4 MP (1936 x 1216) resolution with a GigE interface in color and monochrome with up to 102 frames per second utilizing TurboDrive.

What’s so interesting about the Nano M1950 and C1950 models?

2.4 MP resolution with the speed of the popular IMX174, but at the price of the IMX249:  
Sony Pregius image sensors in a given resolution has created paired sensors, one being faster at a higher price and one slower at a lower price.  The Nano M1940 / C1940 cameras use the IMX174 which is a great sensor and historically had the fastest speed at 2.4MP in GigE, but at a premium.  We could opt for the Nano M1920 / C1920 cameras with the IMX249 at a lower price, but sacrificed speed.

Until now! – The latest Nano M1950 / C1950 models with the IMX392 provides the higher speed of the M1940 / C1940 cameras, but at the lower price of the Nano M1920 / C1920 cameras. 

2.4MP resolution using a 1 /2 in sensor format, provides cost savings on lenses.
Thanks to the Sony Pregius Gen 2 pixel architecture, the pixel size is 3.45um, allowing the same resolution and eliminating the added cost of larger format lenses found in the IMX174 / IMX249 sensors which were 1 / 1.2″ formats.

Contact 1stVision to get our recommendations on lens series designed for the 3.45um pixel pitch. 

When would you use the Sony Pregius IMX392 versus the IMX174 and IMX249 sensors? 

The Sony Pregius IMX174 / IMX249 images still have an incredible dynamic range due to the pixel architecture found in the first generation image sensors.  (Read more here on Gen 1 vs Gen 2).  If you need dynamic range, with large well depths of 30Ke-, then use the IMX174 / IM249 sensors.

I’m so confused!   Where can I get the specs on the new Nano M1950 / C1950, understand what sensors are in what cameras and get a quote?

The tough part today, is that there a ton of model #’s in the Sony Pregius sensors lineup and in turn camera product lines.  Here’s a brief table to help with links to spec’s, related image sensors and a link to get a quote.

Sensor          Model 
IMX174         Nano M1940 / C1940          GET QUOTE
IMX249        Nano M1920 / C1920           GET QUOTE
IMX392        Nano M1950 / C1950           GET QUOTE

1st Vision’s sales engineers have over 100 years of combined experience to assist in your camera selection.  With a large portfolio of lenses, cables, NIC card and industrial computers, we can provide a full vision solution!

Contact us to help in the specification and providing pricing

Ph:  978-474-0044  /  info@1stvision.com  / www.1stvision.com

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Basic guidelines in selecting a machine vision camera interface

Machine Vision InterfacesIndustrial machine vision camera interfaces have continued to develop allowing cameras to transfer megapixel images at extremely high frame rates.  These advancements are opening up endless applications, however each interface has its own pro’s and con’s.

 

Selecting the best digital camera interface can be done by taking in several considerations first and in doing so, can window down your selection.

The following are some considerations in making an interface selection.

  1. Bandwidth (Resolution and frame rate)
  2. Cable Length
  3. Cost
  4. Complexity

Bandwidth:  This is one of the biggest factors in selecting an interface as it essentially is the size of the pipe to allow data to flow.  Bandwidth can be calculated by resolution x frame rate x bit depth.   You essentially find out pixels / second x the frame bit depth resulting in your total Megabits / second (Mb/sec).  Large frame sizes at high speeds will require a large data pipe!  If not, you’ll be bandwidth limited, so one would need to reduce the frame rate and image size or a combination of both.

Cable Length:  The application will dictate the distance between the camera and industrial computer.  In factory automation applications, the cameras can be located in most cases within meters from the computer vs a stadium sports analytics application requiring 100’s of meters.

Cost:  Budgets dictate in most cases, so this must also be considered.  Interfaces such as USB are very low cost versus a CoaxPress interface which will require a $2K frame grabber and more expensive cables.

Complexity:  Not all interfaces are plug and play and require more complex configuration.  If you are leaning towards interfaces using frame grabbers and have no vision experience, you may want to elect using a certified systems integrator.

The considerations above will start to dictate the interface for the machine vision application.  The chart below provides an overview to help in the selection process.  machine vision interface chartFor a PDF of this chart, please email jonc@1stvision with subject “Interface chart”

Digital machine vision camera interfaces.

The interfaces each have pro’s and con’s aside from the designated bandwidth, cable lengths and costs, and outlined as follows:

USB2.0 is an older standard for machine vision cameras and now superseded by USB3.0 / 3.1 .  Early on, this was popular allowing cameras to easily plug and play with standard USB ports.  This is still a great option for lower frame rate applications and comes with low cost.  Click here for USB2 cameras.

USB3.0 / 3.1  is the next revision of USB2.0 allowing high data rates, plug and play capabilities and is ratified by the AIA standards, being “USB3 Vision” compliant.  This allows plug and play with 3rd party software following the GENICAM standards.  Cables lengths are limited to 5 meters, but can be overcome with active and optical cables.   Click here for USB3 cameras

GigE Vision was introduced in 2006 and is a widely accepted standard following GENICAM standards.  This is a the most popular high bandwidth interface allowing plug and play capabilities and allowing long cable lengths.  Power Over Ethernet (PoE) will allow 1 cable to be used for data and power making a simpler installation.  GigE is still not was fast as USB3.0, but has benefits of 100 meter cable lengths.  Click here for GigE cameras.

5 GiGe (aka N-base T) & 10GigE similar to USB2 moving to USB3, is the next iteration of the GigEVision standard providing more bandwidth.   Both follow the same GigE Vision standards, but now at higher bandwidths.  Specific NIC cards will be required to handle the interface.  Click here for 5 GigE cameras. 

CoaxPress (CXP) is a relatively new standard released in 2010, supported by GENICAM, utilizing coax cable to transmit data, trigger signals and power using one cable..  It is a scaleable interface via additional coax cables supporting up to 25Gb/s (3125MB/s) and higher now with CXP12.  The interface can support extremely high bandwidth as seen in the above chart with long cable lengths to 100+ meters depending on the configuration.  This interface requires a frame grabber which adds cost and some complexity in the overall setup.  Click here for CoaxPress cameras

Camera link is a well established standard, dedicated machine vision standard released in 2000 allowing high speed communications between cameras and frame grabbers.  It includes provisions for data, communications, camera timing and real time signaling to the camera.  A frame grabber is required similar to CXP adding cost and some complexity and is limited in cable lengths to 10 meters.  Longer cable lengths can be achieved with active and fiber optic cable solutions which additionally add cost.   Click here for CameraLink cameras

CameraLink HS is a dedicated machine vision standard taking key aspects of CameraLink and expanding upon it with more features.  This is a scaleable high speed interface with reliable data transfer and long cable lengths up to 300+ meters with low cost fiber connections.  Similar to CXP and camera link a frame grabber is required adding cost.  Click here for Cameralink HS cameras

Some caveats:  In calculating bandwidth, you can calculate the theoretical data rate, but in some interfaces, the real world practical will be different.  In Camera link and CoaxPress, the theoretical and practical are the same.   In Cameralink HS, limits will be set by the computer interface (i.e PCIe x 8, Gen 3 is 6.8 Gigabyte / sec and an Xtium CHLS frame grabber can capture 7 Gigabyte / sec!)

The theoretical and practical limits for USB and Ethernet can be quite different and there will always be some difference.  For example, large frames and low frame rate generates less interrupts, providing less overhead to the CPU.   A small frame with high frame rate generates more interrupts causing more load to the CPU.

Click to contact As a note:  This blog post covers the basics of each of the interfaces.  There is much more information 1stVision can share with you to be sure you are taking all aspects of the vision application into consideration.  We have several additional resources we can share to help, so don’t hesitate to contact us for free consultation!

1st Vision’s sales engineers have over 100 years of combined experience to assist in your camera selection.  With a large portfolio of lenses, cables, NIC card and industrial computers, we can provide a full vision solution!

Ph:  978-474-0044  /  info@1stvision.com  / www.1stvision.com

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Learn about the new 5GigE camera interface

Dalsa Nano 5GigE

Machine vision interfaces have continued to evolve over the years increasing data throughput and cable lengths.  Commonly used interfaces are GigE and USB3.  However, 5GigE is an interface now gaining attention in the industrial imaging / machine vision market with some nice advantages.

We will outline the benefits of 5GigE, but first, lets give a brief overview of the commonly used camera interfaces, with their pluses and minuses:

GigE  / GigE Vision

  • 110 MB/s of sustainable throughput.  In real world terms, a HD, 2MP camera can get 50-55 fps in 8 bit mono or 8 bit color mode.  Note, this isn’t real HD, since you need 60 FPS.
  • Data cable lengths up to 100m using regular CAT 5e/6 cable.
  • Easy to put multiple cameras on a system.

USB 3 / USB3 Vision

  • 420 MB/s of data throughput.    A HD 2MP camera can run 60 fps in 8 bit mono or color and can  also run RGB at 60 FPS no problem.  With the higher throughput,  a 5MP camera can achieve 85 fps in 8 bit mode.
  • Data cables up to 5 meters and up to 20 meters with active cables. However, active cables can be quite costly, adding up to $200 in cost.
  • Not as easy as GigE to put multiple cameras on a system, and gets harder with each additional camera, especially if you have limited USB3 controllers.

As a note, there is no cost difference when using cameras with the same sensor from the same manufacturer with USB or GigE!  They will cost about the same with no premium for one interface over the other.

gige nano 5gigeWhat are the limitations of GigE and USB3 now solved by 5GigE?

  • USB3 is limited in cable length, so going faster than GigE is great, but you can not have long cable lengths.
  • GigE has cable lengths up to 100 meters, but is limited to ~ 110MB/s of data, so you do not have the high frame rates as in a USB3 camera.
  • USB3 in 4+ camera systems is not as stable as GigE AND you’re still limited on cable lengths.

Wait! – What about 10GigE? 

Up until now, 10G was the next interface. However, the jump to 10G has quite a few limitations as outlined below.

  • Heat generation is significant, so cameras are large and not in the smaller 29 x 29mm cube form factor.
  • Not a lot of demand for very high speed 10G, so not a lot of sensors being offered
  • Minimal number of manufacturers for 10G, higher cost.
  • Special cabling, either optical or high quality cat 7.

What we have found is that there are several types of applications for 10G cameras and are as follows

  • Applications where you need 10G of speed of course (high resolution + fast frame rates)
  • Require greater than  110MB/s of data and need long cable lengths.
  • Where there is the required combination of 110MB/s for high frame rates, multiple cameras and long cable lengths, 10G is a perfect solution.

We have seen that the need for higher bandwidth + long cable lengths is more prominent vs. the real need for 10GigE!

 Introducing 5GigE that provides increased bandwidth, long cable lengths at reasonable prices! or N Base T.5GigE machine vision applications

5GigE (also known as N Base T) has become a new standard for industrial, machine vision cameras.

In the general compute world, a much much larger market than vision, there has also been a need to go faster than GigE. However, the issue of replacing the existing cabling is the major issue preventing this. If you think of a big box store, say a Home Depot for instance, the amount of cabling is huge. Ripping that out and rewiring far exceeds the cost of the equipment to use it!

5G was made to go faster, but use existing cabling. Regular cat6e cable can be used, and 5G is a subset of 10G, so all switches etc. can be kept in service.

5G gives users in the vision market USB3 speeds, but with ALL of the regular GigE features, at a very small premium!

get quote1st Vision’s sales engineers have over 100 years of combined experience to assist in your camera selection.  With a large portfolio of lenses, cables, NIC card and industrial computers, we can provide a full vision solution!