Pixim chip a game changer

Pixim chip launch a game changer

From Orca to the latest Seawolf, Pixim Inc. continues to bring innovation to the chip market—and again, this one seems like a real game changer for the CCTV industry.

Late last week the Mountain View, Calif.-based company announced it was in production with a new chip designed for the OEM camera market that offers unheard of (until this time) low light performance plus superior wide dynamic range (WDR). For the first time, security camera manufacturers will be able to use a single, digital chip, rather than more complicated mixed-signal, multi-chip sets to develop new cameras for all lighting conditions.

The Seawolf chip provides 10 times the low-light performance of previous generation security camera chip sets as well as the industry's proven greatest WDR and accurate color performance at half the hardware build cost. It can be used in both IP and high resolution CCTV cameras and will be available at a price point which is sure to drive it to mainstream use. Currently Pixim chipsets are incorporated into over a million security cameras installed in more than 100 countries worldwide.

I spoke with John Monti, chip expert extraordinaire, after Pixim made the announcement. Monti is the vice president of marketing and business development manager for Pixim. For those who are unaware, Pixim has a solid footprint in the OEM industry and as many as 500 different security camera models use its chips. The company is rooted in the video security industry, where it got its start in 2004, and it has continued to successfully saturate the market with its digital chipsets ever since.

Monti said what sets the company’s chips apart from others is the digital image sensor it uses, rather than the traditional analog CCD chip. And of course, because everything is going digital, from images to displays, the product is certainly well placed. How it works, in layman’s terms, is that the chip converts the image to digital format at the earliest possible point – the pixel itself, and that’s why it can readily capture high quality images for both analog and IP cameras alike.

“When you have a digital image sensor, you break the barrier with regards to resolution, and you can work with all kinds of infrastructures and applications,” Monti said. Single board camera modules based on the Seawolf chip also make it easier for manufacturers to develop compact camera formats, a rapidly growing market segment. “We created this chip because of the number of applications with uncontrolled lighting,” Monti continued. “It corrects for deficiencies in an analog stream and each pixel takes multiple shots of every frame of video, optimizing each frame. We improved the low light capabilities substantially and dropped the implementation costs. It provides killer low light capabilities at new commodity pricing that should dramatically increase market penetration. Most branded Pixim chipset cameras wholesale for $175 to $225 and with Seawolf, those numbers may drop to an average of $140 – a commodity distribution price point.”

The chip also follows the HTVL Effective (Horizontal TV Lines Effective) specification (see attached pdf on the spec). According to the HTVL-E specification , the chip’s architecture increases available vertical TVL rather than horizontal, which produces a higher, better overall resolution, no matter the conditions, compatible with all existing CCTV displays (both LCD and CRT) and digital video recorders (DVRs). With 690 HTVL effective, Seawolf will deliver the highest usable resolution to the CCTV end user. –Deborah L. O’Mara, editor in chief, SD&I magazine; deborah.omara@cygnusb2b.com.