Comparison of the Most Common Digital Interface Technologies in Vision Technology

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1 WHITE PAPER Comparison of the Most Common Digital Interface Technologies in Vision Technology Camera Link, USB3 Vision, GigE Vision, FireWire When setting up a vision system, the choice of the camera interface is one of the most important ones. Customers, integrators and manufacturers must consider different factors to find the optimum between performance, costs and reliability. This white paper compares the most common digital interfaces in vision technology, and outlines advantages and disadvantages for each. It considers cost issues, and the latest technical trends such as USB 3.0, when comparing the interfaces. Content 1. Gigabit Ethernet Flexible Interface Without Frame Grabber, Multi-camera Excellence, Long Cable Lengths USB3 Vision Speedy Interface Without Frame Grabber, Low CPU Load, Easy to Use FireWire Older Interface With Limitations Camera Link Very High Data Throughput, but Complex System Setups CPU Load comparison of FireWire, USB3 Vision and GigE Vision Conclusion and Outlook Gigabit Ethernet Multi-Camera Strenghts, Long Cable Lengths, Flexible Interface Without Frame Grabber The GigE Vision standard works in tandem with the physical interface defined by the Gigabit Ethernet standard, providing a clear logical implementation and supporting easy integration in all image processing programs via the use of software libraries. Also, because the exchange of one GigE Vision-compatible camera for another can be performed without changing the application software, new investments and follow-up costs can be estimated and well-planned. Gigabit Ethernet already dominates many areas of image processing, from production to intelligent traffic systems. However, the system manufacturer must meet some requirements when implementing Gigabit Ethernet. First, they must take into account the computing power needed for image acquisition. This is typically 3 % to 8 % when using appropriate drivers such as the Basler pylon driver. Second, the end-user must decide what trigger interval is required. The Gigabit Ethernet interface can trigger GigE cameras within approximately one millisecond. This is sufficient for many applications. Users who need to operate the camera in the microsecond range can use the hardware I/O (Input) for triggering. Summary of Gigabit Ethernet/GigE Vision: Gigabit Ethernet has been an established technology in industrial image processing since By number of installations, it is the fastest-growing interface on digital cameras used for industrial image processing. This popularity is the result of Gigabit Ethernet solving some central problems. Gigabit Ethernet removes the cable length restrictions present in earlier interfaces and simplifies the usage of several cameras with one computer. With a data rate of more than 100 MB/s and a maximum 100-meter cable length, Gigabit Ethernet is a universally applicable digital interface that does not need any frame grabber. This saves a lot in the overall system cost. GigE has the potential to replace analog camera systems in almost every application. Speed: 100 MB/s net Cable Length: up to 100 meters passive Standard interface on nearly all PC hardware Easy infrastructure setup for multi-camera use Long cable distances One cable solution possible (POE Power over Ethernet) CPU load must be optimized 1

2 2. USB 3.0 High-Speed Interface Without Frame Grabber, Low CPU Load, Easy to Use Summary of USB 3.0/USB3 Vision: Speed: 350 MB/s net Cable Length: up to 8 meters passive USB 3.0 is a standard hardware interface Since USB 3.0 has become a standard in the consumer market, a lot of hardware supports native USB 3.0. Compared to USB 2.0, the USB 3.0 successor interface offers nine times more bandwidth, better error management, higher power supply, longer cable lengths and lower latency and jitter times. There is a native energy management system included which allows the host to set the devices (camera) to a suspend mode. This suspend mode is configurable, and can save energy in outdoor or battery-powered camera setups. Released in 2013, the official USB3 Vision standard defines the necessary elements that make USB 3.0 industry-compliant for vision applications. It takes in connectors and cable characteristics. It also defines the communication between a USB3 Vision device and USB3 Vision-compliant software. As with GigE Vision, this standard is an important step in allowing customers to rely on one interface choice over a long period of time. The major advantages of USB 3.0 are: the high bandwidth of over 350 MB/s, without the cost and effort for a separate frame grabber. The possibility of plug-andplay is another strength of the USB 3.0 interface. This gives flexibility for applications which depend on different PC setups. At the same time, the hardware for USB 3.0 is widely available. Most of the new PCs and even the smallest embedded boards do offer USB 3.0 ports. The Direct Memory Access (DMA) reduces the CPU load for data transfer to a minimum. This means more calculation power for library and SDK software. The low latency and jitter behavior built into the USB 3.0 protocol further help to position USB 3.0 as an ideal replacement for older digital interfaces like FireWire or USB 2.0. Easy to use due to plug & play functions Low CPU load, signal latency and jitter (real-time capability) Energy Management with low power consumptions and suspend modes One cable solution (power via USB 3.0 cable) Challenges with complex multi-camera setups 3. FireWire Older Interface with Limitations FireWire (also known as IEEE 1394) has been a very successful digital interface for many years. Why did people like the FireWire interface? Because there has been a well-defined standard with DCAM, and the interoperability between software and device worked well. The power support per port was excellent, and a wide variety of camera options exists in the market. Nevertheless, the FireWire market percentage continues to shrink. There are several reasons: first of all, FireWire only supports up to 64MB/s (IEEE 1394b), and this drastically limits resolution and frames per second. The official cable length is also very short, at 4.5 meters. Meanwhile, the FireWire interface has been disappearing from the mass consumer market. Increasing prices and decreasing availability of the hardware, and support within the software are the result. Overall, when planning new setups, FireWire should no longer be considered as a vision interface. A suitable replacement with similar characteristics but far higher bandwidth could be USB

3 Summary of FireWire Speed: IEEE 1394a: max 32 MB/s IEEE 1394b: max 64 MB/s Cable Length: up to 4.5 meters Low CPU load Low signal latency and jitter (real-time capability) Decreasing hardware and software support Bandwidth 4.Camera Link Very High Data Throughput, but Complex System Setups other than image processing. These components, and therefore the whole Camera Link solution, are relatively expensive. Also, each component must be certified by the manufacturer and compatible with the other components in the system. Only this will guarantee completely smooth interaction. For guidance related to system setups with Power over Camera Link (PoCL) please see also the Basler white paper What to Consider in Modern (Po)CL Systems (Setup, Advantages and Costs). Summary of Camera Link: Speed: Base (max 24 bits per clock) e.g. 255 MB/s Medium (max 48 bits per clock) - e.g. 510 MB/s Full (max 85 bits per clock) e.g. 850 MB/s Cable Length: up to 10 meters for 85 MHz Proven standard High data streams One cable solution possible (PoCL Power over Camera Link) Needs special frame grabber Camera Link is and will remain an extremely robust and powerful interface for industrial cameras in all performance categories. Today, most camera types are available in a version that can be connected to a computer via Camera Link. The bandwidth available with Camera Link can accommodate very small cameras (the size of a sugar cube) up to cameras with several megapixel resolution and often several hundred frames per second speed. The Camera Link full configuration supports data rates up to 850MB/s. Camera Link has become the standard interface for line scan cameras, based on the high line rates and the large amount of data that these cameras can generate. High end peripherals (grabber + cables) Since it was designed especially for industrial cameras, Camera Link has clear advantages such as extremely high bandwidth, relative ease of use, and high data security. All components in a Camera Link solution must adhere to the Camera Link Standard. Cables, connectors, and frame grabber cards that adhere to this standard are not typically used in applications 3

4 5. CPU Load Comparison for FireWire, USB3 Vision, and GigE Vision The following graph illustrates the differences in CPU load between the 3 different frame grabber-less interfaces. For the same image size transfer there is a low CPU load with FireWire and USB 3.0, because both interfaces work with DMA (Direct Memory Access). The CPU load with GigE is slightly higher, because GigE requires copy processing. CPU Load in % 10% 8% 6% 4% 2% 0% 48.8 MB/s 85 MB/s 350 MB/s IEEE 1994b GigE Vision USB3 Vision Figure 1 - CPU Load Comparison for FW, GigE, USB3 Vision* In addition, USB 3.0 will continue to rise, thanks to the stability it achieves through the USB3 Vision standard. USB3 Vision combines high speed, low CPU load and low system costs. USB 3.0 will particularly replace older setups with FireWire or USB 2.0. Users whose highest priorities include speed and resolution should choose Camera Link Full as an interface. Another expected trend will see the replacement of Camera Link Base and Medium by USB 3.0 (for reasons of cost. ) Other high-speed interfaces also have some advantages, but at this point they do not have relevant market share, due to high system costs. GigE, USB 3.0 and Camera Link Full currently dominate the future landscape. Basler makes the choice of interface as easy as possible for users, by offering all major interfaces in its cameras, from small area scan cameras up to line scan cameras. All the cameras work with the same software platform (Basler pylon). These factors combine to offer the highest flexibility and lowest effort for integration when switching over to a new interface. The following chart summarizes this white paper for quick reference. 6. Conclusion and Outlook Interface Cable Lengths Bandwidth max. in MB/s. Multi- Cable Camera Costs Realtime Plug & Play A one size fits all interface for digital industrial cameras does not exist, but there are clear contenders for future applications. Industry watchers expect some interfaces to decline and disappear in vision technology over time: FireWire, because of its disappearance on the mass consumer market, and USB 2.0 because of its limited stability for image transfer. Both interfaces are also not suitable for current trends towards higher resolutions and speeds, due to their low bandwidth. USB 2.0 5m m m m 350 Because the Gigabit Ethernet interface has the most technological flexibility with regards to cable length and multi-camera functionality, it will play a particularly important role in many different applications. 10 m 850 Figure 2 - Summary Interface Comparison * Windows 7 Professional, x86intel Core i5 650, only one active core, not hyperthreading, 4GB RAM, USB3.0 Host Controller: Renesas Electronics (5Gb/s), CPU Load was measured with perfmon, average measurements 10min, Driver: Win USB 3.0 and IEEE 1394 Basler pylon, AOI= , Pixel Format= Mono12 (16bit pro Pixel), Framerate= 16fps at 48,8MB/s 4

5 Author René von Fintel Senior Product Manager René von Fintel is responsible for the Basler ace camera platform and manages the market introduction of new technologies like USB3 Vision. He holds a diploma in industrial engineering and business management. Before joining Basler, René worked in sales and marketing of a well-known German medical technology company for eight years. Contact René von Fintel - Senior Product Manager Tel Fax An der Strusbek Ahrensburg Germany Basler is a leading developer and manufacturer of high-quality digital cameras for applications in manufacturing, video surveillance, medicine and traffic monitoring. Product development is led by the demands of industry. The cameras offer simple integration, compact sizes and an outstanding price/performance ratio. Basler offers over 25 years of experience in the image processing industry and has been developing and producing high-quality cameras for more than 15 years. The company is home to more than 400 employees at its corporate headquarters in Ahrensburg, Germany and its subsidiaries in the USA, Singapore, Taiwan, China and Korea. For information on Disclaimer of Liability & Privacy Statement please see 03/2013 Germany, Headquarters Tel Fax USA Tel Fax Asia Tel Fax

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