Digital security surveillance (DSS) is changing expectations for video surveillance around the world. And this includes mobile applications. Gone are the days when people will accept fuzzy, grainy images from traditional analog video surveillance equipment. High resolution images and high definition video provide better evidence and enable secondary uses of the video for applications such as training. In addition, intelligent network video recorders (NVRs) make possible advanced video analytics for motion detection, loitering/dwell time, left-behind objects, license plate recognition, and more.
In this blog, I want to look at the design challenges for embedded developers of mobile NVRs. These challenges include the rugged environments of life on the road, riding the rails, plying the oceans, or flying at 30,000 feet. Such tough, power-constrained operating conditions call for fanless, small footprint designs that sip power, but provide all the performance necessary for handling the input from multiple cameras, processing the video, and storing and exporting. It’s a lot to ask of a little box bolted on the floor of a bus or similar moving environment.
To give developers of mobile DSS systems a head start, a number of companies in the Intel® Intelligent Systems Alliance provide market-ready mobile NVR solutions that fulfill all these requirements. The 200-plus members of the Alliance collaborate closely with Intel to create hardware, software, tools, and services to help speed intelligent systems to market. These include a wide range of solutions designed around the latest Intel® architecture (IA) processors, which offer a number of features that benefit rugged designs. Let’s briefly review these new features and then look at some Alliance solutions.
Getting Familiar with the Processors
For higher end mobile NVRs, 3rd generation Intel® Core™ processor-based platforms currently deliver best-in-class performance and reliability for ruggedized applications. Intel’s new 3D tri-gate transistor technology and 22nm process technology deliver higher performance per watt over previous-generation processors—a critical feature for rugged applications requiring high performance and energy efficiency in high temperature environments. With up to 20% better performance in the same thermal envelope as the previous generation, these processors make it easier to achieve performance goals in a fanless design.
Especially important for DSS applications, the upgraded graphics engine delivers up to 1.8x faster video transcode (and 36 percent faster decode), along with up to 60 percent faster graphics performance. The result is faster video processing with less CPU loading—another important advantage for fanless designs. What’s more, by integrating next-generation I/O technologies such as PCI Express* Gen 3 and USB 3.0, this new generation processor offers faster connectivity for handling multiple, simultaneous real-time video streams. (To learn more about 3rd generation Intel® Core™ processor graphics, I/O and power advantages, see my colleague Kenton Williston’s blog on this processor series.)
For even more power-constrained applications, NVRs based on the new Intel® Atom™ processor N2000 and D2000 series (formerly codenamed “Cedar Trail”) also provide significant performance upgrades with up to 4x the 3D graphics performance of their predecessors. Important for DSS applications, the graphics engine on these Intel® Atom™ processors perform 1080p hardware video decode. For more details, I recommend another Kenton Williston blog discussing the latest Intel® Atom™ processors.
Ready to Market NVRs
These new processor series provide excellent performance and power advantages that Alliance members use to develop their mobile NVR products. A good example is the Advantech TREK-668 (see Figure 1). Designed for in-vehicle surveillance and fleet management for police, ambulance, fire engine, bus and train, it uses an Intel® Atom™ processor N2600 series to support high-quality, MPEG-4, MJPEG, H.264 recording, and transmission for up to 16 camera inputs. To draw minimal power, the 1.66 GHz N2600 features 3.5 W thermal design power (TDP) and supports Intel® Deep Power Down Technology. This technology significantly reduces power usage during idle period, an important consideration for in-vehicle use.
Figure 1. Advantech TREK-668.
Requiring minimal power itself, the TREK-668 has one power-sourcing equipment (PSE) switch to provide Power over Ethernet (PoE) for an IP camera. Eachcamera input provides motion detection capabilities and a hybrid recording function using Advantech Power View software allows for image transmission as either digital video signals or as analog video signals. The TREK-668’s dual display/dual audio interfaces support different resolutions. As for connectivity, the TREK-668 can transmit images or alarms for remote monitoring over a wireless, GPRS, 3G, or HSDPA network connection. It even includes GPS with AGPS and dead reckoning technology for vehicle tracking and positioning.
Figure 2. The business end (back) of the NEXCOM NViS 3542P8.
For even more PoE ports (up to eight) and higher end video processing and I/O performance, DSS developers can turn to the NEXCOM NViS 3542P8 (seeFigure 2). This ruggedized mobile NVR series enables 16 channels of high resolution surveillance videos to be instantly transmitted from IP cameras to surveillance platforms and remote sites. It’s currently based on 2nd generationIntel® Core™ i7/i5 processors (also an excellent choice for mobile NVRs), but I talked with NEXCO and they plan to evaluate a possible switch to 3rdgeneration later this year. The PoE-integrated NViS 3542P8 supports high bandwidth GbE LAN, PoE interface, GPS communication, WAN/WLAN connectivity, and hot swappable HDD. With its integrated graphics engine, Intel® Turbo Boost and Intel® Hyper-Threading Technologies, the Intel Core processor provides excellent graphics capability for processing HD content playback and recording in real time without the expense or power cost of an external graphics card. The NViS 3542 series’ 3G/3.5G/Wi-Fi connectivity, along with its GPS capabilities, enable personnel to remotely access video footage and location information to rapidly make informed decisions on how to respond to various situations.
Another compelling solution for mobile surveillance on public transportation is the IEI TANK-700 embedded PC. This fanless, rugged 8-channel audio/video capture solution is designed to handle the dust and vibration of life on the move. Currently available on request with a 3rd generation Intel® Core™ processor, it’s capable of compressing and decompressing full HD (1920x1080) video in real-time without increasing CPU loading. It includes three integrated antennas and supports dual-band 2.4/5GHz 802.11a/b/g/n 3T3R MIMO technology to provide up to 450Mbps wide bandwidth operation. With the DirectX 10.1/OpenGL 3.0/Full MPEG-2/WMV (VC-1)/H.264 (AVC) Hardware Encoding/Transcoding Technology, the TANK-700/720 series makes the media transcoding process more efficient and enables easier broadcasting.
In addition to low-power mobile NVR solutions like these, Alliance members offer a number of rugged, energy efficient board solutions based on Intel® architecture for developers to use in designing their own mobile NVRs. Have a mobile DSS design project? Let me know what you’re looking for in a market-ready NVR or embedded board.
To learn more about DSS solutions based on Intel processors, read Intel’s end-to-end guide on Building Digital Security & Surveillance Systems Based on Intel Technology.
Advantech is a Premier member of the Intel® Intelligent Systems Alliance. NEXCOM and IEI are Associate members of the Alliance.
Roving Reporter (Intel Contractor), Intel® Intelligent Systems Alliance
Associate Editor, Embedded Innovator magazine