Sunday, December 7, 2008

USB 2.0 vs. IEEE1394 – the fight goes on

Over the last couple of years 1394 (a.k.a. “Firewire”) has become the standard interface for digital machine vision imaging. This has come about because Firewire cameras are pretty much plug-and-play and most vision software is configured to comply with the IIDC standard, making implementation of a Firewire system pretty straightforward.

So why do camera vendors (such as
Lumenera,) persist in launching USB machine vision cameras? And why has a 1394 disciple like Point Grey launched a USB camera (the Chameleon)?

Well, as fans of the “sport of kings” like to say, it’s “horses for courses.” The two are not identical but have differing strengths and weaknesses. This means that, as a machine vision professional, you should understand the merits of each interface.

For a detailed look at the two I refer you to this PowerPoint presentation, “
New Advances in IEEE 1394 and USB Technology and Standards,” (a catchy title, don’t you think?) presented at the Stuttgart Vision 2008 Show by Jorg Clement and Michael Gibbons of Point Grey.

After comparing the two interfaces, the presentation goes on to discuss what’s coming down the pipe in terms of higher speeds. Basically, proponents of both standards are shooting to move pixels from camera to PC a whole lot faster than they can now. This sounds great, although I’m concerned about the support Microsoft will give an improved Firewire interface. If you’ve tried the (b) flavor you’ll know that Windows doesn’t play well, so I’m left wondering what that will mean for Firewire (c).


L. Venkata Subramaniam said...

I think USB is better understood by novice users. My parents find it preferable to plug into the USB port, because most things go in there, when using a camera. It could also be because of microsoft's reluctance as you have pointed out.

I never knew there were actually technology differences in the two.

Anonymous said...

The linked document says there is no universal USB camera interface, but there is: USB Video Device Class (UVC).