Chipset combos for lighting challenges

Chipset combos for lighting challenges

a&s looks into a number of popular chipset combinations, of image sensors, ISPs and SoCs, and evaluates how they impact megapixel camera performance under challenging lighting conditions and overall cost-effectiveness.

1. Sony 1/2. 8” Progressive CMOS + ISP + Hi-3516
In this combination, with the CMOS sensor delivering 1080p video at 30 fps driven by Hisilicon Technologies' SoC based on ARM Cortex A9 800 MHz, the ISP is actually the game changer, whether it is embedded on the SoC or comes from an independent provider such as Nextchip. Differences in picture quality can then be seen in color rendition, WDR/BLC and edge VCA — an area where one can determine a camera manufacturer's ability incorporate and build on existing SDKs.

2. Sony 1/2.8” Exmor CMOS or Aptina 1/3” CMOS + ISP + Texas Instruments DM368
It is a cost-friendly combination. Only the lower-end IMX-122 sensor (at 30 fps) can work with the TI DM368 SoC based on ARM Cortex A9 432 MHz. As such, picture quality can be quite telling, especially in detail and WDR performance.

3. Sony 1/2.8” Exmor CMOS + ISP + GM-8128
There are two sensor possibilities: Sony IMX-136 or generic IMX-036. In theory, drastic picture quality differences should be seen in 3-megapixel (at 120 fps) and 2-megapixel (1080p at 30 fps) Exmor sensors. As the Grain Media GM-8128 supports 1080p at 30 fps at best, final performance of this combination becomes quite restrained.

4. Sony 1/2.8” Exmor CMOS or Aptina 1/3” CMOS + ISP + Ambarella A5s
This is probably the best combination of all, in both price and performance, as all three parties play a critical role. A number of camera models have won international awards based on this architecture, where manufacturers can play around with more ISP possibilities.

These observations actually indicate that megapixel cameras are well into the sixth generation of development, with much improved image processing, digital noise reduction, read speed and light sensitivity — light years ahead of traditional CCD counterparts.

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