IT trends impacting IP video: SDXC memory cards

Memory card technology from consumer world could rewrite how video surveillance systems work

Is this vision achievable? Moore's Law states that every 18 months chip performance doubles based on the number of transistors that can be placed on an integrated circuit. This gives manufactures the option of lowering the price of their existing product offering while maintaining the same performance or doubling the performance at the same cost. Today most network camera manufactures have excess capacity on their Application Specific Integrated Circuit (ASIC) or Digital Signal Processor (DSP) which can provide platforms for software developers that enable them to embed their applications directly in the camera. The biggest obstacles for deploying more complex applications such as embedding portions of a VMS directly onto the camera have been processing performance and storage. Over the next few years, with the availability of higher performance network cameras and greater capacity SDXC cards, VMS manufactures will have more options in developing decentralized solutions.

Determining rewrite limits

There are some concerns surrounding implementation of SD Memory technology particularly with regards to the finite number of times data can be "written" before the card fails. Video applications are write-intensive so manufactures need to set proper expectations for the use of SDXC in their products. Industry experts currently estimate that a 2TB memory card will support at least 5,000 rewrites before the recording becomes unreadable.

Weighing the costs

Since SDXC cards are not yet available (recent reports suggest that the first version will reach the market later this year), we cannot calculate the total cost of 2TB of storage on the edge. Today 32GB offerings are available for $139.00. The average cost per gigabyte will most likely be much higher when compared to traditional centralized storage options, but the total cost of ownership might surprise you. With centralized solutions there is also the cost of power consumption to consider. In most cases, the physical network infrastructure would be equivalent in both, rendering it a non-factor in determining total cost of ownership. On the other hand, a decentralized solution decreases overall bandwidth consumption, giving it an advantage in installations with limited bandwidth options such as alarm verification of a remote pipeline.

A new perspective on video at the edge

Like so many innovations before it, SDXC was born out of the demand generated by the consumer electronics market. Similar to our consumer counterparts, security professionals want better-quality video and greater storage and retrieval capacity for the vast quantities of video we capture. Plus, we want to do more with less. Sized at less than one-inch square and with capacity options up to 2TB, SDXC cards will offer many markets an interesting alternative to managing and storing large amounts of data such as security video.

About the author: James Marcella has been a technologist in the security and IT industries for more than 17 years. He is currently the director of technical services for Axis Communications.