GigE Vision is an interface standard introduced in 2006 for high-performance industrial cameras. It provides a framework for transmitting high-speed video and related control data over Ethernet networks. The standard was initiated by a group of 12 companies, and the committee has since grown to include more than 50 members. The 12 founding members were: Adimec, Atmel, Basler AG, CyberOptics, DALSA, JAI A/S, JAI PULNiX, Matrox, National Instruments, Photonfocus, Pleora Technologies and Stemmer Imaging. The Automated Imaging Association (AIA) oversees the on-going development and administration of the standard.
GigE Vision is based on the Internet Protocol standard. One goal is to unify current protocols for industrial cameras. The other is to make it easier for 3rd party organizations to develop compatible software and hardware.
GigE Vision is an open standard according to definitions that allow commercial licensing and do not require free dissemination (for example, the ITU-T). Obtaining a copy of the standard requires submitting company data including business activity and anticipated use of the standard. Annual license fees are available. Non-AIA companies are charged a higher rate. Committee membership is open only to companies that are members of the AIA, EMVA or JIIA, with non-commercial entities unrepresented. One consequence of the license is that it is not possible to write open source software using the GigE Vision specification, as that could reveal details of the standard. Most image acquisition SDKs for GigE Vision are closed source. Efforts are underway to create software that supports GigE Vision without access to the specification (see below).
- Fast data transfer rates—typically up to 1000 Mbit/s (based on 1000BASE-T). However, devices capable of operating using 10 Gigabit Ethernet began appearing on the market in 2012.
- Data transfer length up to 100m—The use of switches, repeaters, or fiber optic converters can increase the length. The performance of each implementation varies with the quality of the equipment.
- Standardized environment—Supports the creation of new-generation, networked video applications based on switched client/server Ethernet architectures.
GigE Vision has four main elements:
- GigE Vision Control Protocol(GVCP)—Runs on the UDP protocol. The standard defines how to control and configure devices. Specifies stream channels and the mechanisms of sending image and configuration data between cameras and computers.
- GigE Vision Stream Protocol(GVSP)—Runs on the UDP protocol. Covers the definition of data types and the ways images can be transferred via GigE.
- GigE Device Discovery Mechanism—Provides mechanisms to obtain IP addresses.
- XML description file based on a schema defined by the European Machine Vision Association's GenICam standard that allows access to camera controls and image streams.
Support by free software
The network packet analyzer Wireshark decodes and documents GigE Vision transmissions, though variants such as the byte-based version used by Pleora Inc. are not supported.