Now in its seventh generation and celebrating its 20th anniversary, the Axis ARTPEC chip was launched in 1999 designed to optimise network video. Today, it forms the basis for the essential product capabilities (such as image quality, analytics features, and coding performance) that are delivered to advanced network cameras.
Using ARTPEC as the foundation, innovations such as the Forensic Wide Dynamic Range (WDR), edge analytics, and Zipstream compression technology that reduces the cost of storage in the system have been made possible. Each ARTPEC generation had a strategic goal to achieve with countless refinements and enhancements being implemented over the years.
Chip development is a complex process that requires commitment to not only being innovative, but ensuring the technology reflects the demands of the time. From its side, Axis has organised its core technologies department into independent groups that focus on problems and improvements in several fields. They have the freedom to explore and focus on the areas they think will have the biggest potential in the future.
ARTPEC-1 introduced dedicated image and compression hardware that could stream video directly from the camera to a remote location via the Internet. Users simply had to point their browsers to the embedded webserver in the camera with standard protocols used to transfer the video.
The second generation chipset saw the team starting to experiment with more efficient MPEG video encoding. ARTPEC-3 incorporated the H.264/AVC video encoder with the rest of the system into one SoC (system-on-chip) that could deliver high-quality HDTV, a first in the market.
Launched in 2011, ARTPEC-4 focused on solving two of the most significant issues with digital cameras at that time – limited dynamic range and light sensitivity. This resulted in the introduction of the Lightfinder solution along with a new WDR offering that addressed these concerns. The organisation remained focused on this industry challenge with ARTPEC-5 further improving things through its Forensic Capture capabilities.
The sixth generation not only added a new level of security, it provided the foundation for the current iteration ARTPEC-7.
As can be expected, ARTPEC-7 delivers even sharper images and more precise colours than before. Several refinements, such as Lightfinder 2.0, which provides more realistic and saturated colours even in extremely low lighting have been introduced. It has enhanced WDR to capture movements better while reducing the risk of artefacts.
For comparison, ARTPEC-1 only supported the image delivery and offered no flexibility. The new generation has more than 50-times the performance of the first chip at the same size and price.
But as with any technology, developing ARTPEC is an evolutionary process. While improving image quality and usability will always be priorities, there will also be new challenges that must be addressed. Being able to do the design and manufacturing in-house, enables Axis to focus on where it sees the market heading into the future. With so much potential thanks to the growth of artificial intelligence, machine learning, and analytics, the potential is exciting.
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