Advanced Imaging

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Advanced Imaging Magazine

Updated: January 12th, 2011 09:49 AM CDT

October Industry News

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Point Grey Adds USB to Product Line

Point Grey Research, (Richmond, BC, Canada), a world leader of advanced imaging products, has added USB 2.0 cameras to the company's existing line of FireWire digital imaging products.

Point Grey introduced a number of new USB 2.0 digital cameras. New products include the Chameleon™, which uses a high sensitivity 1.3 MP Sony® EXview HAD CCD® for exceptional image quality, and a USB 2.0 version of the popular Firefly® MV. The cameras are designed to address new opportunities in the machine vision and computer vision industries, including applications in object and gesture tracking, test and measurement, life sciences, augmented reality and robot guidance.

"Point Grey is seeing more and more single-camera applications that require the extreme ease-of-use that is only available with USB 2.0," says Vladimir Tucakov, Director of Sales and Marketing at Point Grey. "For most of these new opportunities, long cable length is not required and a maximum data rate of 480 Mb/s is sufficient. The customer wants to be able to simply plug the camera into a computer where connecting a separate FireWire interface card is either difficult or just not possible. Branching out into USB also makes sense from an engineering perspective, since it allows us to effectively leverage our past work on designing and manufacturing some of the smallest digital video cameras in the industry, like the Flea2 and Firefly MV."

USB 2.0 is rapidly gaining industry acceptance due to its general availability on a variety of hardware platforms. The vast majority of laptop, desktop, and embedded systems provide high-speed USB ports, which maximizes system compatibility and minimizes the need for add-in PCI or PCI Express interface cards. Easy access to high quality, low cost components like cables and hubs also allows end-users to lower the overall cost of their systems.

"One question that has come up is whether this means we will stop making FireWire cameras," adds Tucakov. "The answer to that is a definite 'no.' Point Grey has been making FireWire cameras for over eight years, and has established itself as one of the industry's leading FireWire camera manufacturers. Quite simply, we believe in working with technologies that we think make sense and have a future. We are excited about new advances in FireWire technology that will double the bandwidth and increase cable lengths. Similarly, knowing that work is progressing on USB 3.0, which is expected to increase the maximum data rate to 4.8 Gb/s, also played a part in our decision to enter this market."

Existing Point Grey camera users also will benefit from the seamless software integration that is available using the FlyCapture® Software Development Kit (SDK), which has been designed to support both FireWire and USB 2.0 cameras using the same API," says Tucakov.

Like Point Grey's other FireWire imaging products, the new USB 2.0 cameras use a single cable for power and data transfer, implement a general purpose I/O (GPIO) connector for external trigger and strobe, and use a field-programmable gate array (FPGA) chip to control all camera functionality, including exposure, resolution and frame rate, pixel binning, user memory channels and more. The FPGA can also be updated with new functionality in the field.

Agilent Technologies, NVIDIA to Collaborate on Simulations

Agilent Technologies announced its work with NVIDIA to accelerate signal integrity simulations using NVIDIA's Compute Unified Device Architecture (CUDA)-based Graphics Processing Units (GPU). The association is expected to yield the commercial release of a GPU-enabled Advanced Design System (ADS) Transient Convolution Simulator that will allow signal integrity designers to run these simulations dramatically faster than was previously possible.

"We're very pleased to be working with NVIDIA to both speed up their design cycles today and to help our customers solve their signal integrity problems much faster in the future," said Colin Warwick, product marketing manager with Agilent's EEsof EDA division. "In this case, NVIDIA itself is the lead customer for this new blending of technologies."

At high data rates, signal integrity engineers must take into account physical phenomena like impedance mismatch, reflections, electromagnetic coupling, crosstalk, and microwave frequency attenuation due to the skin effect and dielectric loss tangent. NVIDIA's CUDA-based computation acceleration hardware is expected to accelerate Agilent's ADS Transient-Convolution Simulator, allowing designers to perform fast "what-if" design-space exploration using circuit-level models that can be verified against measured data and EM simulation of the artwork.

Common applications for Agilent's ADS Transient-Convolution Simulator that will benefit from the CUDA-based GPU acceleration include design and verification of chip-to-chip multigigabit/s serial links. These are found in almost all consumer and enterprise digital products produced today, from laptop computers to data center servers, telecommunication switching centers and Internet routers. The accelerated simulation will help manufacturers of these products improve their time-to-market by arriving at an optimum design through rapid and complete exploration of the design space and avoiding costly and time-consuming prototype iterations.

"By employing the CUDA development environment to harness the parallel architecture of the GPU, Agilent has significantly enhanced and accelerated its tools, which solve critical simulation problems for NVIDIA," said Tommy Lee, vice president of System Design and Manufacturing, NVIDIA. "Using Agilent's new CUDA-enabled tools, our engineering team was able to simulate our data path in parallel. We achieved a 14x improvement in simulation time, sped up our NPI process and further increased our design velocity."

The Agilent ADS Transient-Convolution Simulator running on NVIDIA's CUDA-based Graphics Processing Units is expected to be available in the first calendar quarter of 2009. Beta evaluation of the simulator is expected to be available this month.

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