Thursday, November 26, 2009

IP camera boasts 1080p video at 30fps

By Eric Brown

Texas Instruments (TI) announced a DaVinci-family, HD-ready Internet Protocol (IP) camera reference design. The Linux-ready DM368IPNC-MT5 is built by Appro Photoelectron, incorporates a TI DM36x-400 SoC, and can process H.264 main-profile 1080p video at 30fps while consuming only three Watts, says TI.

The DM368IPNC-MT5 is designed for cost-sensitive products requiring full HD video, such as IP cameras or IP modules for closed-circuit TV cameras, says TI. Equipped with a five megapixel Micron Aptina CMOS sensor, the DM368IPNC-MT5 IP reference design provides an Ethernet port, a RS485 serial port, a SD card, a USB interface, and Composite video output, says TI. The 2.4 x 1.8 x 3.4-inch (60 x 45 x 87mm) camera is claimed to utilize only three Watts, and includes a TI Power-over-Ethernet (PoE) "solution," called the TPS23753.

DM368 IP camera design block diagram

(Click to enlarge)

The DM368 design provides 30 percent more host processing performance than TI's previous generation IP camera reference design, offering "more headroom for differentiation and video analytics," says the company. TI appears to be comparing the DM368 design to the DM365 camera design (pictured below, right), announced in March, which was also developed in partnership with Appro.

New DM368 IP camera design (left) and earlier DM365 design (right)

The DM365 reference design is built on what TI calls a "new" DaVinci processor, the TI DM36x-400. A search for a "TMS320DM3658" DaVinci part comes up empty, but whatever the actual name of the processor, the TI DM36x-400 is likely to be a 400MHz variation of the 300Mhz TMS320DM365 SoC (system-on-chip) available with the DM365 IP camera design.

The TMS320DM365 began sampling in March, and was billed as is a higher-end version of TI's sub-$10, 720p-capable TMS320DM355, which launched in late 2007 and has been used in previous TI IP camera reference designs. Recently, TI also shipped a similar TMS320DM357SoC model that is twice as expensive as the older DM355, but which adds H.264 compression, an Ethernet MAC, and a DDR2 memory controller.

Aimed at media playback and camera-driven applications, the DM365 SoC is equipped with a 300MHz ARM926EJ-S core, plus multiple on-board peripherals. Like other DaVinci processors, it is available with a Linux-ready evaluation kit.

The SoC was touted as capable of processing 720p video at 30 frames per second (fps) or 1080p at a reduced frame rate, using the H.264 format. By comparison, the new DM36x-400 SoC and camera design boast 720p video at 60fps or 1080p at 30fps using H.264. The new design is also capable of processing 720p at 60fps using MPEG-4, or MJPEG video processed at five megapixels running at 15fps, says the company.

Like the DM365, the TI DM36x-400 offers TI's fifth-generation ISP (image signal processor), which is exploited by the new IP camera, says TI. The ISP is said to enable video stabilization, face detection, and other video quality enhancements. Other embedded functionality is said to include a web server and support for motion detection.

Linux package offers ISP tuning, encryption support

All these functions are supported by a royalty-free Linux application software package, offered with source code. The package includes an ISP Tuning Tool 1.0, a hardware-accelerated AES encryption module, and support for the Physical Security Interoperability Alliance standard (PSIA), says the company.

The software is also said to support the camera's global dynamic range enhancement (GDRE) capability. GDRE is said to enable users to "bring out details in the shadows of the video without washing out the highlights, a critical feature for video surveillance."


The DM368IPNC-MT5 IP camera reference design is available now for $995 from Appro, here, says TI. A TI page on the camera should be here.

TI will demonstrate the design at the the Global Sourcing Conference on Public Safety and Security (CPSE), on November 1-4 at the Shenzhen Convention and Exhibition Center, Futian Central District, Shenzhen, China. TI's booth may be found in Hall 1, Overseas Area A, #B218 - B223.

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