MIPI CSI-2: The Embedded Ready Interface
MIPI CSI-2 is a sensor interface commonly used in embedded systems to connect an image sensor to an embedded board that controls it and processes the image data. The board and the sensor together act as a camera.
We implemented MIPI CSI-2 as a camera interface, creating a complete camera module with advanced image pre-processing capabilities that can be connected to an embedded board.
MIPI Interface Benefits
One benefit of MIPI CSI-2 technology is its high bandwidth of up to 6 Gbit/s of net image data. Its image data stream is scalable: each of the four image data lanes has a bandwidth of up to 1.5 Gbit/s and system integrators can choose to use one, two, three or all four lanes depending on their system requirements. So the MIPI CSI-2 bandwidth can be flexibly adjusted from 1.5 to 6 Gbit/s.
MIPI CSI-2 doesn’t only offer more bandwidth than USB 3.0 (5 Gbit/s). It is also a very simple and robust interface protocol making it extremely reliable and efficient. It has a much lower overhead than most other camera interface technologies, which means it has an even higher net image bandwidth.
Simple, future proof integration
Normally each sensor module needs a specific driver to be integrated into an embedded system. With our MIPI CSI-2 cameras, one driver applies to all models of the camera line, regardless of the sensor. The interface to the sensor happens within the camera. That means that you can replace your 1-Megapixel camera with a 2-Megapixel camera or add new cameras to your system without touching the driver. This is not only true for the sensors that are supported at the time of your purchase. If a new sensor is added to the camera series in the future, the camera driver will remain the same so all you have to do is replace the old camera with the new camera featuring the latest and greatest sensor.
Frees up computing power
The CSI-2 protocol requires far less computing power on the host side than other interfaces like USB. This is because state of the art embedded boards have multi-core processors and co-processors like ARM Cortex. Using a USB camera requires a lot of system level CPU, whereas today‘s multi-core processors are already equipped with MIPI ports. So by using a MIPI CSI port directly from the CPU, the video is routed automatically to an on-board co-processor, leaving the CPU available for vision processing application tasks.
MIPI CSI-2 with enhanced functionality
Building on its experience in the industrial and scientific field, Allied Vision has built advanced triggering and frame rate control capabilities into its CSI-2 cameras. That means that embedded users now have access to a fully compliant MIPI CSI-2 camera module enhanced with the trigger precision known in industrial inspection.