CXP-12 now offers the ability of transfer data at rates of 12.5 Gbps over a single cable up to 40m. Accompanied by the ability to power the camera from the PC via the cable is unique and unprecedented. No other interface can offer these options at these data rates currently.

The Claxon Platform, a Quad CXP-12 PCIe Gen3 Frame Grabber
The Claxon Platform, a Quad CXP-12 PCIe Gen3 Frame Grabber

Q&A with Donal Waide | BitFlow Inc.

Tell us about yourself and your role with BitFlow.

Donal Waide is the Director of Sales for BitFlow, Inc, a frame grabber manufacturer based in Woburn MA, about 15 minutes north of Boston. His career began in machine automation and has been in machine vision since 1997 when he worked as a project manager with an ITS company.

He holds a Bachelors of Engineering (Industrial) from the University of Limerick.

 

What is the Claxon Platform and what led to this advancement in frame grabbers?

The Claxon is the newest line of frame grabbers from BitFlow.  It is a family of three boards, all dedicated to CXP-12 speeds.

 

What are the advantages of the CXP-12 and this board?

CXP-12 now offers the ability of transfer data at rates of 12.5 Gbps over a single cable up to 40m.  This, accompanied by the ability to power the camera from the PC via the cable is unique and unprecedented. No other machine vision interface can offer these options at these data rates currently.

 

Are there any tradeoffs between the Claxon Platform and previous versions?

BitFlow's pedigree of frame grabbers, right from our humble beginnings in 1993 has been to improve each and every product family over the previous release. As vision projects become more and more diverse, so too does the need for multiple situations for customers.  Larger and cheaper FPGA's allow BitFlow to encompass all that the customer requests in a single package, and at the same time, supporting everything the previous generation has had to offer.   The Claxon core design is based on the Cyton (CXP-6) with additional features allowing us to meet the standard of CXP2.0.  Many of these 2.0 features can then be designed back into future revisions of the Cyton family.

 

Can you share with us some of the applications the CXP-12 is best suited for.

In many situations, the advantage of a single cable for data and power is tremendous.  Being able to support a distance of up to 40m means the PC can be outside a clean room while the camera is inside.  For the medical industry this is a big advantage.  In applications where high temperatures may mean degradation in performance, being able to locate the PC further away from the heat source can lead to a longer life of the system.   Single cables are especially important in systems, such as robotics where more data leads to better decisions.  Other industries such as semiconductor and flat panel inspection systems can take advantage of the higher data rates to product quicker processes.  

 

Can you describe to us the process of setting up and install of a BitFlow frame grabber?  What are some key things a user should be aware of?

As simple as it sounds, it doesn't always happen...but we do have a quick start guide/document  that comes with every download of our SDK.  Any customer following this can have their grabber up and running with a camera in a matter of minutes.  The more common delays we see are the customer looking for a non standard setup of the camera involving encoders, triggers, metatag data etc.  While this has been resolved for every one of our existing and current customers, some new requests can be slightly different.  Customers can have settings in their motherboard that cause the computer to sleep after a period of time, something that's not ideal in a 24/7 environment, so this would need disabling.  However, for the more common questions from customers we are constantly adding to our FAQ page.

 

What sets BitFlow apart from other frame grabbers?

BitFlow has been in the business of frame grabbers for close to 30 years.  While some of our competition have migrated into side services such as image processing software, and cameras, BitFlow has focused on one component of the vision system and as such has been perfecting it all along.  The result is a highly technical board which advantages such as customer accessible low level debugging, a SDK which is designed to work with the OEM's custom image processing software.  The customer who elects to use a current third party image processing software such as Halcon, LabVIEW or Vision Pro will find all the latest drivers available from BitFlow. Other advantages are our support for Linux and the ability to work with GPU's directly.  You can read more at https://www.bitflow.com/technology/ 

 

What is next for frame grabbers?  Any new products or enhancements you can share with us?

The next step in the frame grabber industry is two fold.  There is a push for fiber as an option for frame grabbers, with CXP-12 being the optimal packet to be transferred over fiber.  Of course this eliminates the ability to provide Power over CXP, but customers will be well aware of this when switching to a fiber based system.  The demand for embedded is always there, and BitFlow recently showcased their work with the NVIDIA Jetson Xavier AGX Development kit, which several customers are already using. Of course, along with our many camera partners, and being regular contributors to the standards meetings, we do tend to watch closely on what direction the industry is taking and adjust accordingly.

 

The content & opinions in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily represent the views of RoboticsTomorrow
BitFlow, INC.

BitFlow, INC.

BitFlow has been developing industrial frame grabbers and software for the imaging industry since 1993. We specialize in interfacing to cameras with very high data/frame rates; working in environments with complex triggering and I/O requirements; and running in applications where every CPU cycle is precious.

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