Almost written-off by the introduction of new technology, the venerable frame grabber is alive and well. Here we look at some of the major players.
In response to our feature, the team at Active Silicon prepared a paper.
The Role Of The Frame Grabber In Today’s Machine Vision
“With so many new USB 3.0, 10GigE and smart cameras entering the market, some system integrators are suggesting that the frame grabber is a redundant component. Indeed, the death of the frame grabber has been predicted for many years despite its valuable role as an interface suited to high bandwidth requirements. New technologies have threatened, for a decade at least, to replace the need for a frame grabber and yet it still thrives. We know from the numerous requests we get for faster vision systems that frame grabbers still have a very important role to play.
“In the first half of 2018, Grand View Research published a report projecting the market size to grow to US$489.2m by 2025, producing an estimated 975 thousand units. An increasing diversity of applications created by AI, robotics and Industry 4.0 is fueling this growth, alongside the rise in demand for ever-faster image acquisition.”
What Importance Does The Frame Grabber Have?
“Particularly with the emergence of CoaXPress v2.0, the interface is faster than standard PC digital interfaces; our new CXP-12 boards can offer 50 Gbps which is way beyond USB 3.0 or even 10GigE. Such interfaces are also designed for reliable 24/7 usage, in contrast to PC interfaces which are generally optimized for lowest cost rather than dependability. Additionally, the boards are built for real time operation supporting very fast triggers between the PC and the camera.
“If you were at the VISION show in Stuttgart and listened to our Head of Sales and Marketing, Frans Vermeulen, you will understand how using a GPU with a frame grabber can speed up image processing by reducing the PC processing burden and leave additional processing space on the CPU for other functions. Having a frame grabber in your vision system can not only make a huge difference to the speed of image acquisition and processing, but also enable additional functionality and high levels of data-rate capability.
The dedicated software supplied with frame grabbers can also often be tailored to specific applications such as the medical sector (requiring specific compliance) and defense (needing heightened security).”
What Is Active Silicon Doing? Update On Our Firebired Range
“2018 saw the release of our new single CXP-6 board, optimized for cost-effectiveness. This new addition to our FireBird family offers an affordable solution with all the advantages of higher bandwidths, real-time triggering, long cable lengths and the robustness and high reliability of a dedicated vision standard. DMA engine technology “ActiveDMA” guarantees zero CPU intervention, high-speed and low-latency image data transfers. In addition, cable lengths are supported of up to 40m at 6.25 Gbps and over 100m at 3.125 Gbps. All Active Silicon FireBird frame grabbers are GenICam compliant as standard and the board is supported by the proven ActiveSDK software.
“At VISION, we also unveiled our new CXP-12 quad link board. Each CoaXPress link supports the new CoaXPress v2.0 speed of up to 12.5 Gbps data rates, along with device power up to 13W and device control at up to 42 Mbps – all on a single coax cable. For faster devices, the links can be concatenated to provide multiples of the single CoaXPress bandwidth. Offering a Gen3 PCI Express interface, these frame grabbers also employ “ActiveDMA” technology.
“We also support Camera Link interfaces with our wide range of GenICam-enabled Camera Link frame grabbers. For example, the FireBird Camera Link Dual 80-bit (Deca) is an eight lane Gen2 PCI Express board for simultaneous capture from two Camera Link cameras, which could be two Medium, two Full or two 80-bit cameras (including PoCL).
“In a low-profile format, our FireBird Camera Link 80-bit Low Profile is a cost-effective and fast four lane Gen2 PCI Express board for capture from two Base cameras or a single Base, Medium, Full or 80-bit Camera Link camera (including PoCL). The low-profile design allows this board to be used in small embedded PC enclosures and rackmount cases where the full height PC cards are
“Our FireBird Camera Link CompactPCI Serial card supports Camera Link for rugged industrial rack systems. For a combined total data throughput of 10 Gbps, the FireBird Quad USB 3.0 Host Controller supports four USB 3.0 ports arranged as two ports per host controller with each controller having its own PCI Express x1 Gen2 interface.
“Through 2018, we enjoyed record sales as we marked our 30th year in business and are looking forward to strengthening our position in the marketplace and continuing to provide innovative products throughout 2019 and beyond. As frame grabbers represent around half of all our revenue, we’re proof that there’s still a significant role for them in machine vision. While competitive technology such as USB 3.0 and 10GigE has unquestionably evolved over the years, advancements in frame grabber design and operation are keeping them at the forefront of high-speed imaging – the situation remains unchanged!