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Axis new chipset – a game changer?

September 12th, 2019 by Amy Watkins

A computer chip over a CCTV camera

Every 2 years or so, Axis releases a new chip into their cameras, the latest one is ARTPEC-7. While that isn’t newsworthy by itself, what it enables the cameras to do is.

ARTPEC-7 promises better imaging, more powerful compression, enhanced security features and on edge analytics. It sounds very impressive, but what’s really going into the chip and will it make a difference in real deployments?

Surely every chip is the same, right?

Wrong. Axis are one of the few manufacturers who create their own chips specifically designed for network video.

It can be easy to forget how much goes on in a network video device. Cameras deal with video which, even after compression, means large file sizes. Then there’s all the clever adaptations the device adds to make footage usable round the clock. Finally, the rise of CPU-demanding on-camera (or edge) analytics for detection or intelligent analysis to create an alert or action.

As IP cameras get more and more complex, their processing needs increase. Using analytics software to add functionality can reduce frame rates or even stop a video feed entirely if there isn’t enough processing power. Not great when you need it for security!

This is why a chip that has been specifically built for network video is such a great idea. Having a complete end-to-end oversight of the design and production process, makes Axis products fundamentally more secure.

What’s so great about this chip?

Firstly, let’s talk security

The ARTPEC-7 chip offers some new features including: authorised firmware, secure boot and restore to trusted state.

Only signed software is accepted onto a device to stop hackers using updates to infect a machine. If this is bypassed and unauthorised software is installed, this is detected and prevented from running. ‘Secure boot’ functionality ensures that unauthorised firmware is prevented from loading.

The chip also uses a Trusted Platform Module (TPM) which stores certificates safely and handles device integrity verification. TPM is an international standard for cypto-processors.

Secondly, Faster processing

As you might expect, the newer chip is more powerful than its predecessors. What this means for end users is that cameras with ARTPEC-7 have improved views in all modes, especially in the dark (Lightfinder 2.0). The additional processing capability allows for more processing and greater advancements in edge detection.

We’ll discuss Lightfinder 2.0 in a subsequent blog, so let’s delve into edge capabilities. Most Axis cameras come with video motion detection pre-installed. ARTPEC-7 cameras also come with additional AI machine learning capabilities like real-time object detection. In fact, Axis claim most of the new cameras can distinguish between vehicles, people and faces.

To increase the value one camera can provide you can also install additional ACAP software (Axis Camera Application Platform). You can also now run ACAP apps developed third parties like People Counter or Tailgating Detector, to name just two.

Finally, powerful compression

All that data could overwhelm your network without compression. ARTPEC-7 supports HEVC, a high efficiency video coding protocol, which combined with Zipstream technology enables compression of 4k video at 30fps.

The H.264 codec has also had a bit rate improvement of 20% compared to the previous chip. In addition, Axis now comes with H.265 capability for the first time, providing for further bit rate reductions over H.264 and this is improved still further with Zipstream.

Conclusion

The ARTPEC-7 chip is the reason next generation Axis cameras can deliver increased security and better images. With the most bitrate efficient video encoding they have produced so far.

We think this is a game changer for Axis. One that will give them a significant advantage in the IP camera market.

The additional security capabilities and the whole process around chip design helps organisations extend their security rather than compromise it. ARTPEC-7 helps advance the network video industry in ways which we all, suppliers and end-users alike, will benefit from.

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