Camera Link - An Introduction to Alpha Data Camera Link Products


AIA Membership Seal

Camera Link is a widely-used communications interface standards for vision applications, maintained by the Automated Imaging Association (AIA).


Given the large range of available cameras and special purpose instruments, an FPGA is the ideal platform for implementing a Camera Link processor.


Cameras and Frame Grabbers implementing the standard range from low resolution and low frame rate, to extremely high resolution and/or high frame rate. Pixel depths and formats (luminance, colour, temperature etc), and encoding (Bayer) can vary with the type of camera. Given the large range of available cameras and special purpose instruments, an FPGA is the ideal platform the implementing a Camera Link processor.

The FPGA fabric provides the resources needed to implement filters, comparisons, frame stamping, and statistical analysis of captured image or video data. The FPGA can be re-programmed as many time as desired, making it suitable for applications where the image processing pipeline might needed to modified either statically (changing the hardware setup for a new application), or dynamically (used in an application where the function of the image processing pipeline might need to be modified when the mode of operation changes).

Alpha Data offers a range of FPGA cards, Camera Link IO module, and example reference designs (included with FPGA cards); to provide customizable frame grabbing solutions.

A Sample Camera Link System- the ADA-PCIE-CLINK6V


Camera Image XRM_CLINK-MINI I/O Module ADM-XRC-6T1 FPGA Board ADC-PCIE-XMC XMC Carrier Board
Sample Camera Link System Block Diagram

This system has been used to create the ADA-PCIE-CLINK6V frame grabber system.

A similar system can be constructed with the Alpha Data FMC-CAMERALINK and the ADPE-XRC-6T. Alternatively, the FMC-CAMERALINK and the just released ADM-VPX3-7V2.

The Alpha Data Camera Link SDK

To complement our Camera Link Hardware products, Alpha Data provides an extensive Camera Link frame grabber design kit.

This kit includes an application-programming interface (API) and reference FPGA designs intended to assist the user in creating a Camera Link based application using one of Alpha Data's ADM-XRC range of reconfigurable co-processors with one of Alpha Data's Camera Link XRMs. The provided API takes care of low-level tasks such as:

The reference FPGA designs provide simple frame grabbers compatible with acquiring data from Base, Medium, or Full Camera Link camera(s). These designs are a starting point to perform DSP tasks on the images such as filtering, format conversion, or compression. The designs are also extendable to perform analysis of the input image stream(s) on the FPGA card where the FPGA logic may be used to implement a control system reacting to the input image stream(s).

Bespoke examples, including camera emulation designs, can be requested with hardware purchases or quotations (this may add an NRE cost that will vary with the specification of the example design). Contact Alpha Data Sales for further details, outlining your specific Camera Link requirements.

Information on the Camera Link SDK can be found here:

For Virtex-6 and newer FPGA family Products

Contact Support at Alpha Data for Virtex-4 and Virtex-5 IP Information

Alpha Data Camera Link Products

Alpha Data provides a range of Camera Link products. There are a range of IO modules for FMC Standard boards and XRM/XRM2 for most Alpha Data FPGA products.

Alpha Data is also rolling out a collection of "Frame Grabber" systems. These are complete Camera Link Systems for installation in standard PC motherboards. They come with the complete Camera Link SDK and an example frame grabber design.

The Camera Link SDK allows the development of application-specific frame grabbers, image processors or real-time video processors.

Pre-Assembled Alpha Data Camera Link Frame Grabber System

All-in-one Frame Grabber System Image

Alpha Data has created a Camera Link Frame Grabber system. The ADA-PCIE-CLINK6V incorporates the ADM-XRC-6T1, XRM-CLINK-MINI and the ADC-PCIE-XMC. The ADM-XRC-6T1 is configured with a Xilinx Virtex-6 SX315T-1 FPGA and 2GBytes of SDRAM (4 independent banks of 500MBytes).

Alpha Data's Camera Link SDK provides a fully functional frame grabber design ready for testing in the system.


XRM-CLINK-MINI I/O module
ADM-XRC-6T1 FPGA Board
ADC-PCIE-XMC XMC Carrier

Alpha Data Camera Link IO Modules

Alpha Data provides a range of Camera Link IO Modules for the FMC Standard and the XRM/XRM2 standard.


ProductModes of OperationComments
FMC-CAMERALINKFMC-CAMERALINK I/O Module Base Mode (x2)Operates as a single Base Camera Link interface or a dual Base Camera Link interface (1 Camera Link interface per connector)
Medium ModeOperates as a Medium Camera Link interface - uses both connectors
Ful ModeOperates as a Full Camera Link interface - uses both connectors
 
XRM-CAMERALINKXRM-CAMERALINK I/O ModuleBase ModeOperates as a single Base Camera Link interface
Uses standard MDR26 connector
XRM(2)-CLINK-MINIXRM-CLINK-MINI I/O ModuleBase Mode (x2)Operates as a single Base Camera Link interface or a dual Base Camera Link interface (1 Camera Link interface per connector)
Medium ModeOperates as a Medium Camera Link interface - uses both connectors
Full ModeOperates as a Full Camera Link interface - uses both connectors
XRM(2)-CLINK-ADVXRM-CLINK-ADV I/O Module - Camera Link and JPEG2000 CODECsBase Mode (x2)Operates as a single Base Camera Link interface or a dual Base Camera Link interface (1 Camera Link interface per connector)
Also has Dual JPEG2000 Codecs
Medium ModeOperates as a Medium Camera Link interface - uses both connectors
Also has Dual JPEG2000 Codecs
Full ModeOperates as a Full Camera Link interface - uses both connectors
Also has Dual JPEG2000 Codecs
XRM(2)-CLINK-GIGEXRM-CLINK-GIGE I/O Module - Camera Link and Gigabit EthernetBase ModeOperates as a single Base Camera Link interface
Also has a Gigabit Ethernet interface

Power over Camera Link (PoCL) is not available as standard. It can be provided as a build option on selected products. Contact Alpha Data for further details and availability.

Industry Link(s)

Alpha Data is a member of the AIA. Our profile is viewable here Vision Online Organization Website

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