The Interface of Steel
It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s “Superspeed”
- Transfer – the higher speed and higher bandwidth particularly serves the users who work with very large files. Items such as movies or huge collections of high-resolution images (such as you find in the medical arena) require need the high bandwidth required to accomplish fast data transfers for enormous files. “Integrators looking to build a high speed, high-resolution machine vision system can also benefit from this technology,” relates Longval. Indeed, several industrial cameras manufacturers acknowledged this trend and have already developed or will soon release USB 3.0-based camera product lines to address new needs. In addition unlike similar technology (i.e., Camera Link or CoaXPress) USB 3.0 needs no special interface cards or frame grabber in the host computer, Longval points out.
- Increased efficiency – The USB 3.0 protocol enables more efficient, resource-friendly data transmission, Longval indicates. Here’s one way how that works: Via Direct Memory Access (DMA), USB 3.0 host controllers can retrieve image data from USB camera with minimal CPU involvement. This reduces computer loading and frees up resources for critical algorithm processing, according to Longval.
- Power management – USB 3.0 offers a device that boasts 4.5 watts of power (about twice that of USB 2.0). This increase is coupled with more efficient power management techniques – for example, the elimination of the power-wasting polling mechanism. “USB 3.0 has enough power to drive most machine vision cameras right off of the USB port power,” reveals Longval.
- Support of technology – USB 3.0 technology is supported by most new computers and is transferring into embedded machines, observes Longval. “USB 3.0 support is now native in the newest chipsets from Intel and AMD,” he says, adding that, in the next two years, it is expected that all computers will support the technology. More specifically, in operating system terms, Windows 8 will provide native support, while computer manufacturers are currently providing their own USB 3.0 drivers for their Windows 7-based computers. The specification can now even be found on some Mac and Linux systems. “That offers a wide choice of options to the system designer,” Longval points out.
- Ubiquitous technology – Certainly, USB 3.0 isn’t esoteric. As Longval also points out, the ubiquity, or the omnipresence, of USB 3.0 means that this standard is mature, solid and reliable – providing access to a wide-ranging section of computer devices.