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Silicon Software Applets - Apps for Frame Grabbers

5 Sep 2011

Many people are familiar with the concept of apps for smartphones where specialised software functionality can be downloaded to operate on the phone. Silicon Software has applied this basic idea to the world of industrial vision with the introduction of »apps« for frame grabbers. These are known as »applets« and provide the FPGA processors on frame grabbers with new functions.

Hardware applets are an FPGA design consisting of just a few Megabytes of data, which can be loaded onto the FPGA in just a few milliseconds. The applet changes the FPGA configuration to provide the processor with new functions, which run in real-time. If the user needs to change the FPGA processing task, a new applet can be loaded in place of the old one. This process can be automated via software programming and does not slow down the system, as the applets are loaded so quickly.

Silicon Software: Three different applet types

Silicon Software offers three different applet types. Acquisition Applets cover frame grabber functionality, in particular the timing and tap sorting, plus some basic image pre-processing functionality, such as flat field correction and Bayer to RGB conversion. Smart Applets are a newer concept for Silicon Software and provide application-specific image processing sequences to be loaded to the FPGA from pre-programmed designs. Smart Applets are available for laser triangulation, compression, blob analysis and segmentation, and thresholding and further Smart Applets will be developed over time. Beyond the pre-configured applets, Visual Applets is a software tool for programming powerful customised image processing tasks into the FPGA from a library of more than 200 basic and complex image processing operators.

The ease of use of frame grabber apps is important. By using the apps, programming is replaced with configuring. The image-processing system is defined via function blocks that have clear parameters and can be simply activated or deactivated.

Since the libraries are constantly being extended, the user will be able to find, select and load more and more functions in the future, in just the same way as new smartphone apps continue to become available.

The pipeline structure and immediate transfer of the image data arriving at the grabber to the host system (DMA transfer) result in minimum latencies at maximum data rate without CPU load.

CVB 2011: Driver for Silicon Software products

A special CVB 2011 driver for Silicon Software products now also allows access to the Visual Applets parameters, enabling users to control pre- processing on the FPGA of the frame grabber card from their own Common Vision Blox (CVB) program. This very convenient method is made available via the GenAPIGrid and is based on STEMMER IMAGING's own GenICam developments.

Silicon Software

Mannheim, Germany

Silicon Software GmbH was founded in 1997 as a product development and manufacturing company with focus on the automation and machine vision markets. Headquarters are located in Mannheim, Germany where Silicon Software develops and produces off-the-shelf and customised OEM hardware and software solutions.