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 the following figure illustrates, you can take advantage of low-cost FPGAs—such as Altera's Cyclone IV and Cyclone V 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® V GX or Stratix® V FPGAs.