On-chip links speed data transfer

For decades, the lack of a standard high-speed interconnect has plagued developers of vision systems. Numerous companies offering distinct system interconnect schemes locked systems integrators into specific manufacturers and technologies. Now, systems integrators are taking advantage of on-chip communications links to transfer data between systems.

On-chip links speed data transfer

For decades, the lack of a standard high-speed interconnect has plagued developers of vision systems. Numerous companies offering distinct system interconnect schemes locked systems integrators into specific manufacturers and technologies. Now, systems integrators are taking advantage of on-chip communications links to transfer data between systems.

Already, the Naval Undersea Warfare Center (Newport, RI) is making use of the on-chip communications links of the Texas Instruments (Dallas, TX) C40 DSP in the design of an acoustic processing system (see Vision Systems Design, Nov. 1996, p. 24).

Adaptive Optics Associates (Cambridge, MA) has used five C40-based Hydra II boards from Ariel (Cranbury, NJ) to develop a system for improving the resolution of a 3 1/2-mm telescope at the Max Planck Institute of Astronomy (Heidelburg, Germany; see p. 16, this issue)

Now, Chris Brown and colleagues at the AI Vision Research Unit of Sheffield University (Sheffield, England) are using the communication links of the Inmos T9000 Transputer to develop a prototype multiprocessor system for the visual control of an autonomous vehicle (see figure). ©

In operation, the system processes stereo images to yield scene structures that allow the vehicle to avoid obstacles, navigate terrain, and place objects using a robot arm. A mixture of software (running on T9000 Transputers) and DSP-based hardware connects via Transputer links to a C104 asynchronous packet switch.

"In our design," says Brown, "the T9000 modules and the routing network are all standard components available from Parsys (Germany)." However, admits Brown, although using the links as the sole communication mechanism within a vision system is both scalable and flexible, it has its drawbacks. "The 9-Mbyte/s link bandwidth of the current generation of link components (in particular the T9000 Transputer) may not be sufficient for high-performance applications." For more information contact chris@aivru.shef.ac.uk.

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