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Digital Interface of Industrial Camera—Camera Link & GigE

Digital Interface of Industrial Camera—Camera Link & GigE


The data interface of industrial cameras can be divided into two categories: "digital interface" and "analog interface". 


The former transmits a digital signal, the latter an analog signal. Compared with analog signals, digital signals have many advantages, such as strong anti-interference ability, easy encryption, and easy subsequent processing.


Digital interfaces mainly include: Camera Link interface, IEEE 1394 interface, USB interface, GigE interface, CoaXPress interface. We will focus on the Camera Link interface and the GigE interface.


Camera Link interface

For cameras using the Camera Link interface, it is characterized by a large amount of image data, high bandwidth requirements, and fast transmission speed. 


At the same time, it needs to be used with the Camera Link capture card. The Camera Link capture card is generally installed in the PCI-E interface. 


On the control computer (for the early capture cards, the low-end models use the PCI interface, and the model PCI-X interface).


In addition, the Camera Link interface is divided into "large port" (MDR) and "small port" (SDR). 


The pin definitions of the two are exactly the same, but the size is different. For ease of use, industrial cameras generally use "small ports".


It should be noted that the Camera Link interface does not support hot swapping. 


When the camera is working with power on, it is strictly forbidden to unplug the data interface, there is a certain probability that the camera will be damaged, remember !


GigE interface


The GigE interface is a camera interface standard developed based on the Gigabit Ethernet communication protocol, which mainly includes the characteristics of high data transmission rate and long transmission distance. It is precisely because of these features of the GigE interface standard that GigE industrial cameras have certain performance advantages compared to other cameras.


For example: Compared with Camera Link cameras, GigE cameras have the advantages of long transmission distance, no need for frame grabbers and more emphasis on image processing functions; compared with IEEE 1394 cameras, the maximum data rate of GigE cameras is higher. Compared with USB cameras, the advantage of GigE is that it has a more complete standard, a higher maximum data rate, and a longer transmission distance.


But in the same way, the GigE interface also has certain shortcomings. For example, when a large amount of data is transmitted, the CPU is exhausted to cope with the interruption of data packets, which will cause packet loss and delay. Of course, some measures have also been taken to address this problem, such as selecting the jumbo frame setting, increasing the interrupt throttling rate, increasing the value of the accept descriptor, offloading protocol operations and image reorganization, etc.

To sum up, what kind of interface to choose depends on the application requirements of the product.


GigE interface Cable


Camera Link interface Cable


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