Frame Grabbers

Silicon Software has been designing and producing image acquisition boards and intelligent image processing boards since the 1990s. FPGA processors form the processing core of these boards. They excel with their highly parallelizable data processing. With its high bandwidths, this technology is preordained for industrial imaging.

Our product portfolio currently covers following product series:

FPGA Development as Innovation Driver

FPGA development has proven itself to be an innovation driver since the mid-1980s, particularly in achieving smaller and smaller line width of the processors. In so doing, in spite of smaller die areas, a greater number of logical cells could be integrated. With more available logic resources and the FPGA performance they provide, today the processor incorporates the interfaces for camera inputs, signal processing, memory port, and data transfer in one FPGA.

Product Concept Taken Further

Silicon Software takes its product concept even further. Frame grabbers have powerful FPGA processors to integrate high-quality image preprocessing functions into the firmware (A series). For programmable frame grabbers (V series), further FPGA resources and larger memory expansion are available for carrying out even complex image processing directly on the frame grabber without loading the CPU. FPGA programming is accomplished using the graphical development environment for FPGAs, VisualApplets.

Currently we support following interfaces in our product portfolio:

The Camera Link standard was initially released in 2000. It is a robust, well-established communications link that standardizes the connection between cameras and frame grabbers and defines a complete interface, including provisions for data transfer, camera timing, serial communications, and real-time signaling to the camera. Camera Link is a non packet-based protocol and remains the simplest camera/frame grabber interconnect standard. Currently in version 2.0, the standard specification includes Mini Camera Link connectors, Power over Camera Link (PoCL), PoCL-Lite (a minimized PoCL interface supporting base configurations) and cable performance specifications.

The standard specification is maintained by Automated Imaging Association.

[text excerpt from Global Machine Vision Interface Standards Brochure,, courtesy of AIA,] Additional information:

The following products support Camera Link standard:

The Camera Link HS standard was released in May 2012, improving on Camera Link by using off-the-shelf cables to extend reach and also offering increased bandwidth. Camera Link HS features include: single bit error immune protocols; 16 bidirectional General Purpose Input Output (GPIO) signals; system level functions such as synchronizing multiple parallel processing frame grabber; and frame by frame control of camera operating mode from the host. Camera Link HS is supported at 3.125 Gbits/s per lane with the M protocol and at 10.3 Gbits/s per lane with the X protocol.
Unencrypted VHSIC Hardware Description Language (VHDL) IP cores are available, reducing interconnection issues and development risks when integrating Camera Link HS into original equipment manufacturer (OEM) or custom implementations. Even though Camera Link HS is a packet based protocol, it achieves trigger jitter of 6.4 nanoseconds (ns) using the IP core with typical latencies of 150 ns and GPIO latency and jitters in the 300 ns range.

The standard specification is maintained by Automated Imaging Association.

[text excerpt from Global Machine Vision Interface Standards Brochure,, courtesy of AIA,] Additional information:

The following products support Camera Link HS standard (X-Protocol / fiber optic):

The CoaXPress (CXP) standard was released in December 2010. It provides a high-speed interface between cameras and frame grabbers and allows long cable lengths. In its simplest form, CoaXPress uses a single coaxial cable to: transmit data from a camera to a frame grabber at up to 6.25 Gbits/s; simultaneously transmit control data and triggers from the frame grabber to the camera at 20.8 Mbits/s; and provide up to 13W of power to the camera. Link aggregation is used when higher speeds are needed, with more than one coaxial cable sharing the data. Version 1.1 allows use of the smaller DIN 1.0/2.3 connector.

The standard specification is maintained by Japan Industrial Imaging Association.

[text excerpt from Global Machine Vision Interface Standards Brochure,, courtesy of JIIA,] Additional information:

The following products support CoaXPress standard:

The GigE Vision standard is a widely adopted camera interface standard developed using the Ethernet (IEEE 802.3) communication standard. Released in May 2006, the standard was revised in 2010 (version 1.2) and 2011 (version 2.0). GigE Vision supports multiple stream channels and allows for fast error-free image transfer over very long distances using standard Ethernet cables. Hardware and software from different vendors can interoperate seamlessly over Ethernet connections at various data rates. Other Ethernet standards, such as IEEE 1588, are leveraged to provide deterministic triggering.

The standard specification is maintained by Automated Imaging Association.

[text excerpt from Global Machine Vision Interface Standards Brochure,, courtesy of AIA,]

Additional information:

The following products support GigE Vision standard:

Low-voltage differential signaling, or LVDS, also known as TIA/EIA-644, is a technical standard that specifies electrical characteristics of a differential, serial communications protocol. LVDS operates at low power and can run at very high speeds using inexpensive twisted-pair copper cables. It is a low-noise, low-power, low-amplitude method for high-speed (gigabits per second) data transmission over copper wire. Since LVDS is a physical layer specification only, many data communication standards and applications use it but then add a data link layer as defined in the OSI model on top of it.

[text excerpt from Wikipedia,, courtesy of Wikipedia,]

The following products support LVDS technology:

Thunderbolt™ technology is a hardware interface that combines PCI Express (PCIe) and DisplayPort (DP) into one serial signal, and additionally provides DC power, all in one cable. Thunderbolt™ controllers multiplex one or more individual data lanes from connected PCIe and DisplayPort devices for transmission via one duplex Thunderbolt™ lane, then de-multiplex them for use by PCIe and DisplayPort devices on the other end. A single Thunderbolt™ port supports up to six Thunderbolt™ devices via hubs or daisy chains.
When connected to a Thunderbolt™ device, the per-lane data rate increases to 10 Gbit/s and the four Thunderbolt™ lanes are configured as two duplex lanes, each 10 Gbit/s, comprising one lane of input and one lane of output. Sumitomo Electric Industries started selling up to 30-meter-long (100-ft) optical Thunderbolt™ cables in Japan in January 2013,[11] with US company Corning Inc. selling up to 60-meter-long (200 ft) optical cables beginning in late September 2013.

Thunderbolt™ technology is developed and maintained by Intel Corporation.
Additional information:

Following products are based on Thunderbolt™ technology:

Two Product Series Cover Different Requirements

Silicon Software offers frame grabbers as image recording devices (A series) or as image processing devices (V series).

Frame grabbers in the image recording series offer additional preprocessing functions alongside image acquisition, while the those in the image processing series enable programmability for functional individualization.

A-series frame grabbers are based on the most modern processor technology, which executes image acquisition without loading the CPU, without image loss and with minimal latency. The trigger/GPIO interface offers comprehensive configuration possibilities for scan and line cameras. The integrated preprocessing functions are designed for image improvements (i.e., gamma values, brightness, contrast, but also median noise filtering and shading correction), image reconstruction (i.e. , tap sorting, Bayer CFA color reconstruction, network packet management) and comprehensive format support.

With their FPGA processors and generous on-board memory extension, frame grabbers represent state-of-the-art technology for high-speed and high-resolution imaging.

The following devices are available for image acquisition:

The intelligent frame grabbers in the V series are compatible with VisualApplets programming software. Using these, imaging tasks can be visually programmed and loaded onto the frame grabber. Thereafter, these operating sequences can be carried out highly parallel on the frame grabber with minimal latency. Runtime parameters are controlled via the application software. The imaging devices have use of the comparable A series models’ image acquisition functions, but can be equipped with further additional functions (hardware interfaces) as well.

The following devices are available for individual image processing:

The Customer Has the Choice: Internal Plug-In Card or External Device

Silicon Software offers image acquisition and processing functions as internal plug-in cards or as external devices. The internal image acquisition boards are offered as a plug-in device in mezzanine format for the PCI Express slot of the host computer. Transfer bandwidth is determined by the PCIe slot width (number of transfer lanes) and the supported Technology Standard (PCI Generation).

With the LightBridge product line,  image acquisition and processing functions are also available via external devices. These can be mounted and used on the production line by screw or top-hat rail mounting. Using the direct, optical connection to the PC host or IPC via PCI technology (ThunderboltTM-Technology), the external image acquisition and processing device can also be flexibly positioned. The LightBridge product range is manufactured with an aluminum die-cast housing and additional signal interfaces for PLC/automation usage.

LightBridge series is currently available with a Camera Link, including a PoCL (Power over Camera Link) interface for two BASE or one MEDIUM, FULL or Deca camera. It is connected to the host PC or IPC (Industrial PC) via electric or optical cabling (PCI technology / ThunderboltTM-Technology). The LightBridge product line has GPIO in- and outputs and a power supply connector.

The following devices are available as external image acquisition and image processing equipment: