PCI Express frame grabbers debut at Vision 2005

At this year’s Vision 2005 (November 2005; Stuttgart Germany), dPict Imaging (Indianapolis, IN, USA; www.dpictimaging.com) announced it would enter the PCI Express frame-grabber market with two PCI Express boards targeted at machine-vision applications.

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Andrew Wilson, Editor, andyw@pennwell.com

At this year’s Vision 2005 (November 2005; Stuttgart Germany), dPict Imaging (Indianapolis, IN, USA; www.dpictimaging.com) announced it would enter the PCI Express frame-grabber market with two PCI Express boards targeted at machine-vision applications. Emerging from the board-level design group of Integral Technologies (Indianapolis, IN, USA; www.integraloem.com), the company’s initial offerings include the Aexeon product family for analog cameras and the Nexeon Camera Link acquisition board for area and linescan cameras. At the show, the company showed the two boards sporting PCI and PCI Express interfaces.

dPict Technology’s Aexeon provides 10-bit capture from up to three RGB or four S-Video or multiple composite monochrome video sources in NTSC or PAL format. Video can be captured and stored in either square pixel or CCIR-601 resolutions, and can be scaled to any arbitrary size.

“In the design of the analog front-end,” says Kevin Brown, director of product marketing at dPict Imaging, “we chose to use the TVP5146, an NTSC/PAL/SECAM video decoder from Texas Instruments (Dallas, TX, USA; www.ti.com). “The device features four separate 10-bit digitizing channels that enable it to accept multiple composite, S-video, or RGB/YCbCr component video.”

Aexeon also generates RGB or YPrPb component, S-Video, or composite video outputs in NTSC or PAL format. Because video output source data are acquired from on-board memory, it is independent of the video input. This allows for video output not only from the currently viewed input video, but also from off-screen system memory. Graphics overlay or image-processing functions can be applied to the video image before it is displayed.

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Using a Texas Instruments TMS320DM642 digital media processor, the Nexeon board can perform Bayer filter interpolation without host CPU intervention.
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Brown also spoke of dPict Imaging’s newest design in the Aexeon product family, called the Aexeon Quattro-a real-time video-acquisition board with four simultaneous video channels capable of displaying and capturing full-frame, full-resolution video at up to 120 frames/s. “Although the initial Aexeon Quattro board will support up to four simultaneous channels,” says Brown, “we will augment the design to offer a version dubbed the Aexeon Octo that will support up to eight simultaneous channels.”

For machine-vision applications, dPict Imaging’s Nexeon provides an interface to Camera Link cameras with a Base configuration running at pixel clock rates up to 80 MHz. RGB and monochrome cameras at 8/10/12/14/16/24-bit depths are all supported at these rates. Because the Nexeon’s board features an on-board fixed-point 600-MHz TMS320DM642 digital media processor from Texas Instruments, Bayer filter interpolation can be performed in real-time cameras without host CPU intervention.

For all products, dPict Imaging supplies its dVeloper Foundations SDK, which includes libraries of optimized functions for image acquisition, camera and I/O control, and image processing. Included in the library is a number of image-processing functions that can be connected to each other. Up to four independent stages of piped functions can be run simultaneously.

At Vision 2005, Brown spoke of the PCI Express versions of the boards and future directions his company may take in product introductions. Of especial interest was the mention of PCI Express-based high-speed, high-resolution, real-time multicamera implementations that will use the standard to allow multiple-view machine-vision systems to be developed more effectively.

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