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The challenge presented to all frame grabber manufacturers is to bring traditional image acquisition and processing technology to new levels of performance and flexibility. The frame grabber market is being eroded by low-cost USB cameras, Firewire cameras, and recently, GigE cameras.
"The recent introduction of the PCI Express bus allows frame grabbers to provide higher bandwidth for higher resolution and higher frame rate cameras, and to acquire images from more cameras simultaneously, said Chuck Petersen, EPIX Engineer. "Frame grabber hardware costs have decreased and capabilities have increased to allow frame grabbers to process and store more images, and provide enhanced image processing capability. The result is a wider range of customer options," he said.
Aitech Defense Systems, Inc., (Chatsworth, Calif.) has upgraded its high-density M222 PMC to provide sustained data transfer rates of more than 130 MB per second via FPGA-based DMA controllers. The board consumes less than 7 W of power and incorporates up to 64 GB of NAND flash memory in two independent banks with integrated DMAC. Designed for high-speed read, write and erase performance, the M222 is suitable for high-density, local data storage applications such as detailed tactical area maps, large databases, compressed storage of radar or sonar images and software programmable radio ELINT data or other graphics. An optimized Aitech Flash Memory Manager (FMM) software package is optionally available and automatically treats the flash memory as the system's disk drive under the operating system to provide real-time operating system (RTOS) support. The M222 provides full file system read/write emulation, automatic block management, and interleaved DMA memory accesses of up to 32 memory banks for high performance. The onboard FPGA-based flash DMA controller provides "write ahead" buffers for write/erase operations, substantially increasing data throughput, performance and flexibility. The new flash memory PMC comes in forced air-cooled and standard ANSI/VITA 20 conduction-cooled mechanical formats as well as in commercial, rugged and military grade configurations. www.rugged.com
The Fast-Xe, from Alacron (Nashua, N.H.) is a two-thirds raw-length PCI board with four GigE ports and/or three to six 85 MHz Basic Camera Link Channels that provide input for high-speed cameras. The front-end data is formatted and preprocessed by a FPGA before being sent to the memory subsection, processor, GigE interfaces or other outputs. Finally, the Fast-Xe interfaces to the host computer through a 4xPCIe interface for state-of-the-art data acquisition. Options include the addition of multiple (8) Serial ATA (SATA) 150 MB/sec interfaces for continuous high-speed data storage without the usual OS or PCI transfer delays. I/O options include one to four UXGA input channels each with up to 205 MHz data acquisition rates. www.alacron.com
The new Alta Analog Frame Grabbers from BitFlow (Woburn, Mass.) are high-quality, affordable, PCI Express bus imaging products well supported by an easy-to-use SDK, and drivers for most popular software imaging packages. Alta-1 captures and digitizes from one NTSC/PAL, RS170/CCIR, RGB, partial scan or asynchronous reset camera; Alta-2 takes in two of these cameras; Alta-4 supports four cameras. Multiple cameras can be captured simultaneously and independently at the camera's full frame rate and resolution.The Alta is the latest member of BitFlow's full line of PCI Express frame grabbers. The other members are the Neon, which is a very affordable base CL frame grabber that support PoCL cameras (with safe power), and the Karbon, which supports just about every CL camera made, including 10 tap CL, and is capable of data rates up to 2 GB/S. BitFlow's products connect any camera to any machine vision software. www.bitflow.com