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Differences Between Base, Medium, and Full Camera Link Configurations

Updated Apr 25, 2018

Reported In

Hardware

  • Camera Link I/O Board

Driver

  • NI-IMAQ

Other

IMAQ, Camera Link

Issue Details

I want to use a Camera Link camera.  I see that they are available in Base, Medium, Full, and Extended-Full configurations. What do the different configurations mean? What are the differences between them?

Solution

Camera Link is an international image acquisition standard that is particularly useful for high-throughput applications. All Camera Link cameras require a framegrabber, a device that captures individual frames from a video stream for use on a computer. Camera Link cameras come in several configurations which will define the image acquisition capabilities of the camera. The possible configurations are Base, Medium, Full, and Extended-Full.
 
  • Base configuration cameras use a single MDR cable to connect to a framegrabber. They have 24 bits of data per frame and a maximum possible pixel clock rate of 85 MHz. The maximum possible throughput for a particular Camera Link configuration can be calculated by multiplying the number of data bits with the maximum pixel clock rate. For example, a Base configuration would have a maximum possible throughput of (85 MHz) x (24 bits) / (8 bits/byte) = 255 MB/s.
  • The Medium, Full, and Extended-Full configurations require two MDR cables to connect the camera to a framegrabber. The Medium configuration uses 48 data bits and has a maximum throughput of 510 MB/s.
  • The Full configuration uses 64 data bits and has a maximum throughput of 680 MB/s.  
  • The Extended-Full configuration works by repurposing some of the framing/enable signals for image data. This results in 80 data bits and a maximum possible throughput of 850 MB/s.
 
The following table summarizes some of the basic differences between the different Camera Link configurations:
 
ConfigurationNumber of Data BitsMaximum Possible Throughput (MB/s)Number of Cables Required
Base242551
Medium485102
Full646802
Extended-Full808502

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