One of the primary obstacles to enabling faster production line throughput where machine vision is required is the image capture capability. In order to address this, Microchip Technology has introduced a single-chip physical-layer interface device that integrates power, video, control and signal link integrity testing in conformance with the new 12.5Gbps CoaXPress 2.0 interface standard for high-speed imaging in professional and industrial applications.
Microchip said it worked with the Japan Industrial Imaging Association (JIIA) standards organization and its lead customers to optimize its offering in conjunction with CoaXPress (CXP) so it fully exploits the specification’s benefits on the factory floor. Its new EQCO125X40 family of CXP devices provide low-latency, low-power transmission solutions which integrate an equalizer, cable driver and clock data recovery into a single chip that enables camera and capture card manufacturers to deliver high-speed, high-resolution video and control signaling along with power over a single coax cable.
This helps streamline machine vision system design, maximizes transmission speed and simplifies deployment in high-volume bottling operations, food inspection, industrial inspection and imaging applications.
Microchip said this family of devices is the first to implement the CXP 2.0 standard, starting from a new backward compatible design based on the specification, with an integrated clock data recovery (CDR) at all speed levels and a camera-side clock to support the demands of real-world environments. The devices significantly increase machine-vision processing throughput by enabling cameras and capture cards to transmit four to eight times faster than alternative solutions. In addition, the devices enable four times the cable/link distance with much lower power and near-zero latency.
The product family also increases design tolerances and flexibility by seamlessly locking on all frequencies at any speed and eliminates the need for multiple channels by supporting 12.5Gbps of bandwidth over a single cable. Broader cabling options ensure systems can be installed where needed and the integrated CDR improves jitter performance for the signal sent from the camera to the capture card. The on-camera low-frequency clock recovery eliminates the need to program a separate clock in the FPGA. The integrated link signal integrity testing enables the system to perform real-time checks of cable link integrity before and during operations.
In an interview with embedded, Zeph Freeman, marketing manager for Microchip said, “The integrated clock data recovery allows our customers to relax their design, since it helps clean up many of the things you would otherwise have to allow for in the design. We also integrated a low frequency clock signal, which eliminates the need to retrieve a clock signal from the frame grabber. Also, customers really like the integrated signal link integrity test capability.”
He explained the importance of latency and accuracy, saying these are critical since objects on production lines are moving much faster. Freeman added that the chip can be used as a cable repeater too, adding 35-40 meters distance.
For card makers, Microchip’s new offering makes it easier and less expensive to develop more robust products that customers can deploy wherever they need them on the production line. The products enable pre-setup and real-time cable link quality tests to be performed. Users also have the option to scale up to 50 Gbps over multiple cables.
The CTO of Active Silicon, Chris Beynon, said, “Microchip’s new CXP-12 family provides our latest products with a compact and low component count single-chip equalizer solution which can therefore easily meet the CoaXPress return loss specification. The devices also have an elegant feature to allow real-time cable margin testing to detect aging or worn cables before any bit errors would be seen in normal operation.”
The CXP devices from Microchip enable manufacturers to get the same throughput from two ports on cameras and frame grabbers as they previously could with four. The devices can be used to retrieve a real-time low-frequency clock at the camera side, which provides more accurate signal timing. The manufacturers can also use it as a cable repeater, further extending the distances over which the cameras can be linked. “With Microchip’s CXP devices, we support our market needs for a doubling in data throughput while keeping the same system costs,” said Andre Jacobs, director of marketing and sales with Adimec.
The chairman of the Japan Industrial Imaging Association, Sachio Kiura, said, “JIIA is excited to see that Microchip is bringing low-power, high-performance CoaXPress 2.0 solutions to market that fully comply to the recently released CoaXPress 2.0 specification.”
In addition to providing key capabilities that Microchip believes will help to accelerate the adoption of better-performing, lower-cost machine-vision solutions in industrial inspection applications, the company expects that its CoaXPress 2.0 family will have a transformational effect on applications including traffic monitoring, surveillance and security, medical inspection systems and embedded vision solutions. The family is part of an extensive product portfolio spanning the requirements for creating total system solutions, including Microchip’s 12Gbps PolarFire field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) that seamlessly support the CoaXPress protocol with minimal developer effort while enabling a low-power, low-latency and small-footprint solution.
CoaXPress is an open and royalty-free asymmetric, high-speed, point-to-point open serial communication standard for high-performance machine vision, industrial inspection and traffic monitoring systems. It provides a state-of-the-art method for connecting high-performance, high-resolution cameras to high-speed capture cards— or frame grabbers—via standard, off-the-shelf 75Ω coaxial cables. This cost-effective solution enables the transmission of data, video and still images; camera control and triggering; and up to 13W of power of power to be delivered via a single cable of up to 100m in length with a standard BNC, micro BNC or HD-BNC connectors.
The version 2 of the standard ratified last year, CoaXPress 2.0, extends the data transfer rate up to 12.5 Gbps for cables lengths of up to 40m, and up to 40 Mbps for bidirectional communications. It supports higher frame rates or higher camera resolutions for developing even higher-performance video imaging systems.
Evaluation boards are available for the Microchip’s CoaXPress 2.0 family (transmitter, receiver and repeater) as a development aid for customers. The Microchip CoaXPress 2.0 family includes a transmitter-only camera-side device and three single-chip transceiver options. Each is packaged in a 16-pin quad-flat no-leads package and is fully backward-compatible with Microchip’s CoaXPress 1.1 family of devices.