Embedded systems compete with smart cameras at VISION 2007

JUNE 26, 2007--Simply comparing processor performance is not enough.

By Silvia Stoll, Messe Stuttgart

JUNE 26, 2007--"Embedded systems generally involve processing systems with integrated frame grabbers based on either PCs or digital signal processors (DSPs). In such systems, the camera is external and connected via a cable. In many cases, multiple cameras can be connected to an embedded system. In smart cameras, the camera and processing unit are integrated. Their computing power is limited and is generally much lower than that of embedded systems," explains Meinrad Simnacher, managing director of Leutron Vision.

Michael Engel, managing director of Vision Components, does not see performance differences between the competitive systems: "A smart camera is essentially an embedded system. Our flagship, for example, features 1-GHz Texas Instruments DSP technology and a performance of 8000 MIPS, a level of performance that matches embedded systems."

But simply comparing processor performance is not enough. "If space requirements play a decisive role, smart cameras have a clear advantage," explains Peter Klima, managing director of SAC. "However, embedded systems are the better choice if multiple cameras are required for a single application." The price advantage of a smart camera system can disappear in such situations. According to Sayed Soliman, managing director of MaxxVision, smart cameras require very little in the way of peripheral equipment. On the other hand, embedded systems can use smaller camera heads, have a wider range of supported cameras and provide greater flexibility.

In the case of applications involving more than one camera and requiring a large selection of interfaces, embedded systems are at a clear advantage. "Our compact LVmPC supports up to 16 analog and digital cameras," said Simnacher. The question of the best configuration is ultimately one of the user's requirements, however. "For example, OEM users have the choice of 28 different image sensor types for our PicSight Smart cameras. A variety of interfaces, such as Gigabit Ethernet, are also available."

In the intelligent camera sector, MaxxVision will be presenting four new products of the Sony SmartCam 2nd Generation at Vision 2007. To address the embedded systems market, MaxxVision will show the VisionBox Quad--a passively cooled embedded device with four image processors in a compact housing--together with a Chromasens color line scan camera.

Silvia Stoll can be reached at tel. +49 711 2589-696, Fax ext. 305, or e-mail: silvia.stoll@messe-stuttgart.de.

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