1 Your image processing
requires high-definition
and long cables?

2 You want to use small, powerful and
budget-friendly industrial PCs and deploy them
as far as possible from the production area?.

3 Torsional strength and bending cycles of
stiff camera cables in wideband image
processing presents you with a problem?

4 You want to use intelligent
pre-processing to relieve
the workload of your PCs?

5 You want to use intelligent
pre-processing to relieve
the workload of your PCs?

6 There are solutions to these challenges
but they are highly cost-intensive?


Let’s have a look at a typical production environment
that uses high-definition wideband image processing
for quality control but experiences specific difficulties:

„PCs for image processing should be deployed far-off the production area to protect them from dust, dirt and electrical disturbances“.

„Cameras able to send high-definition images to the PC very rapidly can only be connected via very short cables to a frame grabber built-in into a PC. Therefore, PCs must always be placed in the production area close to the camera and the objects“.

„The short camera cables available for wideband image data transmission are too stiff. Their limited flexibility makes them unfit for use with industrial robots. Immense wear and tear of camera cables is a critical cost factor“.

„Real-time image processing should be made mobile and not limit the application. The work load of high-definition wideband image processing should not exclusively be done
by the PC, but should be backed by an intelligent image pre-processing“.


LightBridge is a new product concept – an external image acquisition
and image processing component that allows real-time mobile processing.
This silent, fanless technology is housed in a 12×13 cm box. Using long
electrical or optical Thunderbolt™ cables, LightBridge can be connected to
a host PC as a stand-alone image processing system.


The basic idea underlying LightBridge is amazingly simple:

You get the frame grabber out of the PC, place it in a separate box close to the camera, and connect it with the PC via optical fiber cable and this way give the whole image processing wings.

Nowadays, a technology is available to make this true: Thunderbolt™ technology in its optical version. LightBridge combines all advantages of a classic frame grabber such as performance, real-time capability, and reliability, with completely new features.



Optical data transfer offers much longer cables so that PC and production area can be separated from each other. Thunderbolt™ technology is standardized not only for electrical, but also for optical data transfer. Optical Thunderbolt™ cables of up to 100m in length are available off-the-shelf from many international manufacturers. The optical high-flex cables are very compact, flexible, certified for a huge amount of bending cycles, and highly torsional. These cables need a minimum of space, especially in comparison to the multi-channel cables and huge connector sizes of Camera Link and CoaXPress.
Since LightBridge replaces the frame grabber (that no longer needs to be integrated into the PC), you can use modern, small PCs. This allows to design whole inspection units much more compact and to use more cost-effective PCs.


The Thunderbolt™ technology driven forward by Intel and Apple allows a data transfer of up to 2GB/s. LightBridge is available in a 1GB/s- and a 2GB/s
variant and thus offers sufficient bandwidth for Camera Link.
LightBridge is capable of transferring Camera Link Base, Medium, Full, and Full10Tap (Deca Mode) with full bandwidth.


Due to the optic decoupling of image acquisition and PC and the direct memory access via PCI Express, computing processes can be carried out much more rapidly and the latency is minimized.
LightBridge is already fit for even faster data transfer standards: Using the ultra-fast Thunderbolt™ chips, future LightBridge versions can be used for CoaXPress, Camera Link HS, and GigE Vision connections.



The processing heart of LightBridge is an FPGA. It performs the image acquisition and image pre-processing tasks. But LightBridge is also available in a programmable version. Using Silicon Software´s VisualApplets, you can program the FPGA graphically – without any knowledge of hardware circuits – to meet the specific requirements of your individual image processing task.
Programming the FPGA you can define how the system is used:
From simple image processing (e.g., combining multiple line camera images into one long line) through to autarchic image processing tasks (e.g., sorting glass particles by color and size with automatic outward transfer) – the field of application only depends on the available FPGA resources.


Due to its protection class and construction, LightBridge can be used in industrial environments. It can be deployed in equipment cabinets and in robotics, in traffic and logistic applications, in medicine and in agricultural engineering.
LightBridge offers a huge range of applications, in production areas as well as in the non-industrial field.

System Requirements LightBridge Frame Grabber Vision PC (with GigE)
Bandwidth high high low
Form Factor small huge huge
Cable Length long short long
Fiber Optics yes no no
Real Time Capability yes yes no
Production Line Control good good good
System Cost (incl. PC) low high low
Component Cost high low low


LightBridge costs – although OFFERING ESSENTIALLY HIGHER PERFORMANCE – it is only slightly more than a classic frame grabber.

On the other hand, using LightBridge you can significantly reduce the overall system costs:

  • With LightBridge, you can use LOWER PRICED, COMPACT PCS.
  • THUNDERBOLT™ CABLES are not only much longer, but also much cheaper than, e.g., Camera Link cables. They are also more flexible, have a high torsional strength and a high bending radius. Therefore, they LAST LONGER AND NEED TO BE EXCHANGED LESS OFTEN. Thus, maintenance costs are saved and the downtime of machines is reduced.
  • Using LightBridge, you don’t need to spend money for purchasing additional components like converters or vision PCs.
  • Usually, in many application fields the individual system components have to be electrically decoupled to meet the requirements for approval and
    certification. Using LightBridge there is NO NEED FOR ADDITIONAL AND ELABORATE HARDWARE DESIGN, as, e.g., integrating photocouplers – a fact that could reduce costs dramatically.
  • Many PCMCIA frame grabbers only offer solutions for Camera Link Base configurations. With LightBridge and the Thunderbolt™ technology, THE DATA RATE FOR CAMERA LINK FULL CONFIGURATION IS AVAILABLE.
  • When a frame grabber that is built-in into a PC needs to be updated or replaced, it is often necessary to shut down the PC or even the whole system. These downtime periods are acceptable for a limited amount of time, and moreover can be quite expensive. LIGHTBRIDGE AS AN AUTARCHIC SYSTEM CAN BE PRE-CONFIGURED AND THEN BE REPLACED IN MINUTES.



With LightBridge it will be possible for many industries and their applications to reach a higher performance and at the same time to reduce their system costs.

Everywhere where demanding wideband image inspection is used and where a long-range, electrically decoupled separation of devices and
PCs is required, LightBridge offers a technical solution, and even reduces system costs.

For example
… in TFT display production
… using 3-D scanners
… in the area of medical applications
… in recycling
… in welding technology
… in print inspection
… in agricultural engineering
… in traffic engineering
… outdoor and indoor applications
… and much more.



No. LightBridge is a stand-alone System that has not to be built-in into the PC and can be placed outside.
No. LightBridge offers full frame grabber functionality together with high operational availability. Optical converters are in comparison less reliable and considerably more expensive.
No. LightBridge is not based on PC technology. A Vision Box offers less computing capacity and has to be placed close to the production area.
Optical cables are considerably cheaper than comparable solutions! They are noteably cheaper than Camera Link cables of the same length. Using optical cables reduces the overall system costs.
The Thunderbolt™ technology is intensely driven forward and enhanced by Intel and Apple. Thunderbolt™ technology is the safe decision in regard to demanding applications of the future. You will find Thunderbolt™ technology in each Apple MAC computer – and Hewlett-Packard decided to equip all their notebooks with Thunderbolt™ technology. Thunderbolt™ technology will take root in the high-end field, while USB3 will be the alternative in the low-cost field.
Thunderbolt™ technology is 100 percent based on PCI Express. There are no drivers required and you can use the Silicon Software SDK without any limitations. With LightBridge, Thunderbolt™ technology is not used as a camera interface. Therefore, there is no need for a Vision standard.
There is a simple solution for this. For PCs that do not support that technology, you can get an extension card (pluggable into a PCIe x4 slot) directly from Silicon Software.
Well-known manufacturers offer industrial-suited and screw-mountable Thunderbolt™ cables which can be ordered off-the-shelf in various versions and lengths.



2* SDR26 for PoCL Base, DualBase, Medium, Full, Deca Full
2* Thunderbolt™ interfaces with 1GB/s, fiber optical or electrical,
PCIe technology, high data bandwidth of 940 MB/s @10 Gb/s
1* photocoupler RS485 terminal connector with 4 ingoing and 4 outgoing pins
1* HDSub15 with 8 ingoing and 6 outgoing pins
1* power connection for 12V
Silicon Software Drivers and SDK Software
Compatibility with microEnable-4 and -5 trigger systems
Compatibility with microEnable-5 applets
Dimensions: 120*130*55mm
IP40 protection class



How to use the LightBridge? How can LightBridge help your company? Learn with Bill, Paul and Jim of “Better Products” which problems can be solved. Lean back and enjoy a simple story…
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