The content of this post was generated in collaboration with Donal Waide, Director of Sales at BitFlow.
The CoaXPress standard was developed over 9 years ago to overcome all of the limitations with Camera Link such as limited bandwidth (maximum 850 MB/s) and short, bulky cables. But even after winning the Vision Award in 2009 and all of the technical advantages over other high-speed imaging interface standards, CoaXPress was viewed as a risky option for an interface standard. There was only a single source for the transceiver/receiver chip which was a small company EqcoLogic (now part of MicroChip), and it took a few years before it had the backing by JIIA (and then the G3)
Now in 2016, it is the least risky of the interface standards to choose for future systems and CoaXPress has gained a lot of momentum in the USA. CoaXPress still offers the fastest speeds with power and camera control all in long, flexible cables. There are plans to go to even faster speeds without losing cable length, but it is not just the technology that makes it low risk.
For image system designers upgrading to a new technology, they want to see what the second and third generation will be. No one wants to make a change now, only to have to make a complete system redesign in a few years when they need to double the data rates. Many customers are at bandwidth of 6.25 Gbps per cable to do data rates of 12 Megapixels at 187 fps (4 cables). In 5 years, typical data rates will be double for many applications and the next generation of CoaXPress will offer 12.5 Gbps per cable to support this.
The standard also needs to be well-controlled to make sure the changes don’t undo the ease of upgrading. For instance, with some other emerging high speed interfaces, there are limited frame grabbers and all have different connectors that are not compatible. Or with others, the speed increase can be met but only with a significant drop in cable length. USB 3.1 will offer an increase in the data rate to 10 Gbps per cable, the cable length is limited to only 1 meter.
With a solid plan and support for the roadmap this encourages more component suppliers to create products. For instance, with 10 GigE, the future specifications are shaky so there are limited products coming to the market.
With CoaXPress, there is input from 30+ companies to make sure the needs of a variety of applications are met. It is a well-functioning committee that then delivers on timelines and ensures the standard does not expand beyond what is manageable and actually reduce compatibility. CoaXPress includes features for all of the additional elements such as encoders, strobes, etc. The standards meetings have been a great addition to support the advancement of technology and the compatibility of all products developed.
With a clear and supported roadmap, system designers can be assured that if they design CoaXPress in now, they can upgrade the other components of their system as they need to for the next 10 years at least without needing to make the costlier investment of changing interfaces.
This has lead to many new products from a variety of suppliers and real momentum with US semiconductor and life science companies.
With all of the success it the US, the adoption will trickle down to other geographies. Other industries such as auto companies and maybe even broadcasting are looking to CoaXPress as the way forward.