Camera Link is a serial communication protocol designed for point-to-point automated vision applications. It is based on the Texas Instruments (formerly National Semiconductor) Channel Link interface which has been extended to support general-purpose LVDS data transmission.
Maintained by the Automated Imaging Association (AIA), the Camera Link specification standardizes the camera interface, cables, and frame grabbers used to convert and transmit camera data to a computer, usually across PCITM or PCIe® buses. You'll find the Camera Link interface used in applications like machine vision systems and smart cameras.
Camera Link supports several configurations:
- The base configuration uses up to 24 bits of pixel data (and 3 bits of video sync) to provide a video throughput of up to 255 Mbps
- The medium configuration adds another 24 bits of data to provide a video throughput of up to 510 Mbps
- The full and extended configurations use 64 bits of data (or wider) to provide a video throughput up to 680 Mbps (or greater)
Benefits of Using FPGAs in Camera Link Applications
As Figure 1 illustrates, you can take advantage of low-cost FPGAs—such as Altera's Cyclone® III and Cyclone IV devices — to create high-performance Camera Link applications that lower your total cost of ownership (TCO) and increase your return on investment (ROI). If you need an even higher level of performance, use Altera's Arria® II GX or Stratix® IV FPGAs.
Figure 1. Camera Link Application Example Using an Altera Cyclone IV FPGA
With FPGAs, you can do the following:
- Accelerate image preprocessing (such as pixel-oriented gain control, compensation for defective pixels, and increased dynamic range) to approach real-time frame rates
- Integrate image capturing, camera interfacing, preprocessing, and communications on a single FPGA platform
- Support different camera/bus/communication interfaces in your design, as they evolve (with no new hardware required)
- Reduce your board size and component count, minimize hardware re-spins, get your product to market faster, and keep your product in the market much longer to lower your TCO
For more information, please contact your local Altera® distributor sales office or visit our industrial partners.
- Machine Vision/Industrial Imaging partners
- White paper: Five Ways to Build Flexibility into Your Industrial Applications with FPGAs (PDF)
- White paper: Lowering the Total Cost of Ownership in Industrial Applications (PDF)
- White paper: A Flexible Solution for Industrial Ethernet (PDF)
- Webcast: Three Reasons to Use FPGAs in Industrial Applications
- Webcast: Achieve Lower Total Cost of Ownership for Industrial Designs
- Video: Three Ways to Quickly Adapt to Changing Ethernet Protocols