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ao:camera_link

Camera Link

For details on the Camera Link specification and the underlying protocol, see:
CameraLinkSPEC.pdf
and
channellink_design_guide.pdf.

Camera Link is based on the National Semiconductor “Channel Link”. To be a 100% compatible Camera Link device, both the camera transmitter and the interface card receiver must be National Semiconductor devices, specifically, DS90CR2xxx and DS90LV04x chipsets.

Camera Link has 3 basic modes, “base”, “medium”, and “full”. Base uses only one of the Camera Link connectors (most interface cards come equipped with two connectors to be able to run in anyone of these modes), while medium and full use two Camera Link connectors. Since the Andor Xion camera has the potential to only run in base mode, pretty much any card that we get will work.

Latency:
None of the “simple to obtain” brochures and literature have information on latency, they all talk about modes and throughputs, and whether the interface can provide power through the link. That said, the information on the National Semiconductor Channel Link chip lists something that might be useful: “2.5 / 0 ns Set & Hold Times on TxINPUTs”. I interpret this to mean that it takes 2.5 ns to set a word and 0 ns to hold that value. Since the computer DRAM clocking is on the order of 10-40 ns, I suspect most of the latency is going to be in the computer DMA, transfer which is probably why the interface card manufacturers don't list it.

PCI vs PCIe:
Camera Link interface cards come in many different formats, but in only two basic bus interfaces, PCI and PCIe. Base and medium modes can work with a PCI bus, but full mode requires a PCIe. A few of the cards have PCI versions that fit in 3U compact PCI chassis (like the metrology fiber interface in the OPLE rack), 6U compact PCI, and PC104. The AO computer at the telescope has both PCI and PCIe interfaces, so any traditional bus interface PCI/PCIe will work for us. The following table lists typical data rates for the various interfaces.


Peak
Continuous
Max Pixel Rate
PCI 32-bit
130 MB/sec
100 MB/sec
85 MHz
PCI 64-bit
528 MB/sec
400 MB/sec
85 MHz
PCIe x1
250 MB/sec
190 MB/sec
85 MHz
PCIe x4
1 GB/sec
700 MB/sec
85 MHz
PCIe x8
1.4 GB/sec
850 MB/sec
85 MHz



To begin the search I started with this list of sample framegrabbers. The list is kind of old, so I added more to it, though most of the main players are on the list. Of note, there are a number of entries for a manufacturer called “Coreco”. They have been bought out by Teledyne/DALSA and are listed there, accordingly. Also of note, the entry from “IO Industries” is no longer available. IO Industries is still around, though they only sell digital video editing hardware systems, not individual Camera Link cards.

Vendor
Model
Bus
Price
Linux
Notes
—-




Active Silicon






PHX-D24CL
PCI 32

yes, addl cost



PCIe x1

yes, addl cost


PHX-D48CL
PCI 64

yes, addl cost



PCIe x1

yes, addl cost



PCIe x4

yes, addl cost


PHX-D64CL
PCIe x8

yes, addl cost

AdLink






PCIe-CPL64
PCIe x4

no

Arvoo




Netherlands-based

orlando CL
PCIe x1

yes

BitFlow






Neon-CLB
PCIe x4

no


Neon-CLD
PCIe x4

no

Cognex






MVS 8601e
PCIe x4

no


MVS 8602e
PCIe x4

no

EDT






PCI DV C-Link
PCI 32
$895
yes, free dwnld


PCIe4 DVa C-Link
PCIe x4

yes, free dwnld


PCIe8 DVa C-Link
PCIe x8

yes, free dwnld

Eltec




Germany-based

p3i_CL
PCI 32

yes

EPIX






PIXCI CL1
PCI 32
$495
yes, $495


PIXCI CL2
PCI 64
$895
yes, $495


PIXCI EB1
PCIe x1
$445
yes, $495


PIXCI EB1P
PCIe x1
$495
yes, $495
PoCL

PIXCI EL1
PCIe x1
$645
yes, $495


PIXCI EL1DB
PCIe x1
$695
yes, $495


PIXCI E4
PCIe x4
$1295
yes, $495


PIXCI E4DB
PCIe x4
$1395
yes, $495


PIXCI E8
PCIe x8
$1295
yes, $495

Euresys




Belgium-based

GRABLINK Value
PCI 32

yes


GRABLINK Avenue
PCI 64

yes


GRABLINK Expert 2
PCI 64

yes


GRABLINK Quickpack ColorScan
PCI 64

yes


GRABLINK Base
PCIe x1

yes


GRABLINK Express
PCIe x1

yes


GRABLINK Quickpack CFA PCIe
PCIe x4

yes


GRABLINK DualBase
PCIe x4

yes


GRABLINK Full
PCIe x4

yes


GRABLINK Full XR
PCIe x4

yes

Imperx






VCE-CLPCIe02
PCIe x1

no

Matrix Vision




Germany-based

mvGAMMA-CL
PCI 32

yes, free dwnld


mvTITAN-CL
PCI 32

yes, free dwnld


mvHYPERION-CLb
PCIe x1

yes, free dwnld


mvHYPERION-CLm
PCIe x4

yes, free dwnld


mvHYPERION-CLf
PCIe x4

yes, free dwnld

Matrox






Solios XCL-B
PCI 64

yes
$789, used

Solios eCL
PCIe x1

yes


Solios eV-CL
PCIe x4

yes


Radient eCL
PCIe x8

yes
4 camera link inputs
Mikrotron




Germany-based

INSPECTA-4C
PCI 32

no


INSPECTA 5
PCI 64

no


INSPECTA-4Ce
PCIe x1

no

National Instruments






PCI-1426
PCI 32
$999
no


PCIe-1427
PCIe x1
$949
no


PCIe-1430
PCIe x4
$1749
no


PCIe-1429
PCIe x4
$2100
no

Silicon Software




Germany-based

microEnable IV AS1-PoCL
PCIe x1

yes, included
PoCL

microEnable IV AD1-CL
PCIe x1

yes, included


microEnable IV AD1-PoCL
PCIe x1

yes, included
PoCL

microEnable IV AD1-mPoCL
Pcie x1

yes, included
PoCL

microEnable IV VD1-CL
PCIe x1

yes, included


microEnable IV VD4-CL
PCIe x4

yes, included


microEnable IV VD4-PoCL
PCIe x4

yes, included
PoCL

microEnable IV AD4-CL
PCIe x4

yes, included


microEnable IV AD4-PoCL
PCIe x4

yes, included
PoCL
Teledyne/DALSA






PC2-CamLink
PCI 32

no
older literature

X64-CL Full
PCI 64

no
refers to RedHat 9

X64-CL iPro
PCI 64

no
OS support,

Xcelera-CL LX1 Base
PCIe x1

no
but nothing is

X64-CL Express
PCIe x1

no
listed in the

Xcelera-CL PX4 SE
PCIe x4

no
Teledyne DALSA

Xcelera-CL PX4 Dual
PCIe x4

no
software page

Xcelera-CL PX4 Full
PCIe x4

no


Xcelera-CL+ PX8 Full
PCIe x8

no


Xcelera-CL+ PX8 Dual
PCIe x8

no


I would discourage purchase from any of the European-based vendors. I would also discourage getting a 64-bit PCI card (aka PCI-X) – they're significantly more expensive, and we don't have a bus that can take advantage of it.

My recommendation would be the EPIX EB1 (see here), it's only $445 for each board plus $495 for the 64-bit Linux driver (I assume we will only need to buy the Linux driver once). It's been consistently about half the cost of comparably capable cards from other manufacturers.

ao/camera_link.txt · Last modified: 2018/07/07 12:37 by jones