USB 3.1 for industrial image processing

The USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF) announced in January 2013 a new USB 3.0 specification with a transmission rate of 10 Gbit / s instead of the previous 5 Gbit / s. What can be expected for industrial image processing, explains Oliver Senghaas from IDS.

Mr. Senghaas, the announcement of the USB-IF is a long time ago – when is the first USB 3.1 or ‘SuperspeedPlus’ industrial cameras to be expected?

Senghaas: Here are a few points to clarify: The USB 3.1 specification refers only to the bandwidth – at ‘SuperspeedPlus’ we speak of 10Gbit / s and USB3.1 Gen.2, while USB3.1 Gen. 1 only provides a transmission rate of 5Gbit / s. In the water of USB3.1 there is also a new specification for the connection, namely Type-C. This defines more universal, twist-proof connectors with more contacts.

3As for connectors and cables, everything is prepared for USB3.1 Gen.2. The first chipsets, however, which are suitable for use in small industrial cameras, are expected to be available in early 2017. A lot of effort for cable and camera manufacturers will also create a third USB specification called the USB Power Delivery (PD), which has nothing to do with the connector and the bandwidth. Ultimately, it will probably be a while until 2017, until we see a USB 3.1 Gen. 2 industrial camera with 10Gbit / s transmission rate.By doubling the bandwidth, USB 3.1 would reach the same speeds as the CameraLink and the 10 Gigabit Ethernet interface. What are the advantages of USB3.1 compared to other BV interfaces?Senghaas: Clearly, USB can be generally used for the widespread availability of the connection – which is also powered by the manufacturers of PCs and consumer electronics -, the simpler handling – keyword Plug & Play – and, of course, at the price. Even with high-performance multi-camera systems with up to 16 cameras, for example, almost no additional components are necessary, except for PC plug-in cards or hubs.

Which differences between USB 3.1 and USB 3.0 – in addition to the higher transmission rate – are also an advantage for the user?

Senghaas: A significant advantage derives from the higher bandwidth. This will enable the use of even more powerful sensors with higher resolution and faster framerates in the future. Further advantages are the two specifications Type-C and USB PD, which define the connection technology and the voltage supply. For example, the USB 3.1 Type C connectors are not only twist-proof, but also equipped with more contacts. In addition to the USB signals, higher currents and other signals such as PCI Express, DisplayPort or audio can be transported. In addition, there is no distinction between the equipment and the host side, the cables have the same connectors on both sides.

USB PD Power Delivery also offers interesting options for image processing users: the devices involved themselves deal with who is supplying power and who takes it. The maximum is 20V and 5A, ie 100W. For example, a flash connected to the camera could be powered directly via the USB port, an additional power supply for the flash system would be superfluous.

IDS has announced the USB 3 uEye LE, a first industrial camera series with USB 3.1 connector. It offers the new plug, but not yet the transmission rate of 10GBit / s. Why this step?

Senghaas: This is a USB 3.1 Gen. 1 camera with Type C connector. With it, users can already take advantage of the new connector. At the same time, we are taking a first step towards the ‘SuperspeedPlus’ industrial camera. IDS is a pioneer in USB industrial cameras; We are fully committed to the next USB development stage and want to signal to the user that we are involved from the beginning. We deal with the technology and gather experience. Once the first suitable USB 3.1 Gen. 2 chipsets are available, we will be well prepared.

Currently, the Ethernet connection is a kind of comeback in industrial cameras.

How do you see this development?

Senghaas: Ethernet is a well-known and proven technology – the infrastructure already exists in many companies, new cables are laid quickly and easily. Cable lengths up to 100 m are also possible, which increases the connection flexibility. This is why industrial cameras with an Ethernet connection are just as important as the USB interface; We are also pushing ahead with the expansion of our GigE camera range. At the ‘Vision’ in Stuttgart, we are presenting a GigE industrial camera with an IP65 / 67 housing and M12-X-type round connectors, which exploit the high bandwidth of the interface and is designed for applications in factory automation or in harsh environments , Our first GigE vision camera will also be presented in Stuttgart.

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