Cost-effective, compact capture cards offer big performance

Datapath, world-leading engineers of visual solutions, has introduced its VisionLC range of professional video capture cards. The VisionLC series responds to market demand for cost-effective, compact cards offering high-definition capture.

VisionLC capture cards have been optimised for use in small footprint appliances that need to offer low-latency video capture across a wide range of formats. These feature-rich new cards, which have been designed to provide high-definition capture for small devices at a very competitive price point, support all known DirectShow and Media Foundation video streaming and encoding applications. Typical markets able to take advantage include education, video gaming, medical and broadcasting.

At the core of the solution is Datapath’s LiveStream:Capture (LC) architecture, which allows powerful, real-time processing and delivery of captured video to a processor or graphics card. The VisionLC range supports integrated colour space conversion and scaling, offering the ability to efficiently transfer video signals in a suitable format for rendering or encoding applications.  The new cards natively support 32, 24, 16 and 12 bit YUV, as well as RGB formats.

Lecture capture in the education sector is among the applications set to benefit most. Using VisionLC, lectures can be captured live for streaming online or recorded for later viewing, making online classrooms and distance learning simple and straightforward. Conveniently, the VisionLC card can fit into low-powered capture stations which allow video to be delivered directly to a processor in a form factor that permits easy installation inside a lectern. The automatic signal detection in VisionLC cards means that lecturers need not worry about changing complex settings when plugging in their laptop as the cards will automatically adjust to the new input resolution, allowing the class to proceed without interruption.

Further applications include gaming PCs for streaming on video game sharing websites such as Twitch, where 4k at 30 fps is more than adequate. Here, the colour space conversion capability of VisionLC capture cards free-up the CPU for the best possible gaming experience.

Small devices used in the medical industry, such as heart monitors, scanners and operating cameras, will also benefit from Datapath’s new VisionLC capture cards, particularly as installation is simplified through automatic signal scaling. Similarly, the VisionLC series is ideal for streamed content required by the broadcast sector, such as the use of GoPros, drones and Facebook Live; essentially any small device application needing the best capture quality available.

VisionLC series capture cards are ideal for integration into video-over-IP systems because they support the NV12 pixel format, meaning they work efficiently with Intel's 'QuickSync' encoding hardware contained within most modern Intel CPUs. They also support the YV12 pixel format used commonly in software-based video encoding.

The new series comprises three variants. Datapath’s VisionLC-HD provides a single, high-definition capture channel in a PCIe low-profile card. It offers up to 297 MP/s pixel clock capturing and 3840 x 2160p (at 30 fps), while DMA bandwidth is 800 MB/s.

Also available is the VisionLC-HD2, which provides dual-channel, high-definition HDMI capture. The first channel delivers the same performance as the VisionLC-HD, while the second channel supports 165 MHz maximum pixel clock capturing and up to 1920 x 1080p at 60 Hz. DMA bandwidth is 1.6 GB/s.

Datapath’s third offering is the VisionLC-SDI, which offers tri-band SDI capture. This provides single SDI capture channel (SD/ HD/3G) at 60 fps, with 800 MB/s DMA bandwidth.

The VisionLC-HD supports an on-board colour space converter with the ability to efficiently transfer the video, thus making it suitable for rendering applications. However, to suit customers with requirements for both rendering and encoding, the VisionLC-HD2 and VisionLC-SDI also offer high-performance colour space up and down scaling.

The combination of high-quality up and down scaling, automatic mode detection and 'no signal' frame emulation means an active video stream will continue to operate regardless of the presence or resolution of the source video. If the source video stops for any reason, the VisionLC card will deliver ‘no signal’ frames. Furthermore, when the source changes resolution, the card will automatically scale the video into the requested stream resolution with no intervention required from the user or streaming application. This makes VisionLC an advantageous choice in comparison with capture cards from other vendors which often require intervention during such events.

All capture cards in the VisionLC series are compatible with existing Windows® DirectShow and Linux® V4L2 applications.

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