GPUDirect Drives Data Processing and Transfer Improvements for GigE Vision Cameras

June 20, 2023

NVIDIA GPUDirect is a set of technologies that enables rapid and low-latency data transfer from peripherals like network interface cards (NICs) and storage devices to NVIDIA GPUs for efficient processing. When it comes to NICs, GPUDirect utilizes remote direct memory access (RDMA) to directly transfer data from the NIC to GPU memory, bypassing the CPU and system memory. This approach results in an exceptionally low-latency and low-jitter pathway from a data source, such as a GigE Vision camera, to a more powerful and less-burdened processing node represented by the GPU.

As data volumes continue to grow, the need for efficient data movement, processing, and storage becomes increasingly important. In imaging, sensor resolutions are constantly improving and, equally significant, sensor frame rates are also increasing. This leads to a significant amount of data that must be transmitted and processed in real-time, especially in critical applications. CPUs are unable to handle data consumption at the same rate as GPUs. Traditionally, data has been transferred to GPUs through system memory, which creates bottlenecks in the system and hampers the full performance potential of GPU processing. GPUDirect effectively solves this problem.

GPUDirect Boosts Industrial Imaging Capabilities

As the advantages of industrial imaging expand across new and disparate applications, the need for higher resolutions and frame rates becomes increasingly apparent. While the industry has developed several methods to transmit multi-gigabit data rates from the camera source to the PC host, this addresses only part of the challenge. Once the data reaches the host, new obstacles arise for users in terms of data handling.

Fortunately, GPUDirect offers support for network adapters, providing a clear pathway for end-to-end performance. By utilizing Ethernet-based transfer protocols like GigE Vision, machine vision cameras such as those offered by Emergent Vision Technologies can deliver image data at rates of 10GigE, 25GigE, and 100GigE rates. These cameras ensure both low latency and predictable jitter, which are essential factors for success in mission-critical and high-value applications.

Important Use Cases for GPUDirect

In numerous cases, traditional processing using the system CPU and memory is sufficient. However, certain industries require more advanced solutions, justifying the additional investment in building optimized data acquisition and processing systems.

·      Surgical navigation, image-guided intervention, and medical robotics — Real-time responsiveness is critical in applications involving invasive procedures on humans. Cameras used for surgical guidance or diagnostic imaging must provide instant feedback to the operator. Higher image resolutions and fast frame rates are essential for better visualization, navigation, and decision-making. GPUDirect enables seamless delivery of high-definition (HD) images with no perceived latency, supporting these demanding medical applications.

·       Sports and Live Entertainment — The popularity of HD and ultra-high-definition (UHD) video, coupled with high frame rates, creates immersive viewing experiences. Multiple cameras capturing various angles and perspectives, along with the need for post-event review, generate a substantial amount of data. GPUDirect offers an effective solution for video compression, processing, and simultaneous archival of multiple streams.

·       Virtual/Augmented Reality — Advancements in VR and AR enable large-scale collaboration and simulation. GPU performance is crucial for tasks such as virtual walkthroughs, complex medical procedure rehearsals, and military/police training. Real-time processing of multiple HD video streams, combined with environmental overlays, is best suited for GPU processing.

·       Automated Optical Inspection — High-resolution inspection of complex circuit cards or large UHD flat-panel displays requires rapid and accurate analysis. Large image sensors with high megapixel counts and fast frame rates generate significant data sets that need to be analyzed in near real-time. GPU processing, facilitated by GPUDirect, efficiently handles these demanding tasks without burdening the CPU or system memory.

Adopting NVIDIA GPUDirect involves a more intricate process than conventional image-processing applications. As technology advances and applications become more demanding, conventional methods alone may not suffice. Emergent Vision Technologies, in addition to supporting GPUDirect through compatible NICs, has developed high-performance NICs specifically optimized for industrial high-speed imaging. Combined with their camera offerings and an optimized GigE Vision implementation, the company provides welcome access to cutting-edge performance and image processing capabilities.

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