From the SoC up: building quality into every layer
The ARTPEC SoC – first released in products in 1999 and now in its eighth iteration – is the foundation that allows Axis to deliver the highest quality network cameras possible. Specifically designed for video surveillance with a focus on deep learning analytics on the edge, the latest ARTPEC-8 SoC has more than 100 times the performance of the original ARTPEC SoC. Controlling the design and manufacture of our own SoC means that Axis can create the products best optimized for customer needs, while addressing the evolution of external factors, such as threats to cybersecurity.
The concept of high-quality in surveillance cameras can take a number of forms. Providing high-resolution images is a given, but easy-to-use functionality that serves every customers’ specific needs is equally important. More recently, the capacity to support analytics applications, including applications based on deep learning on the edge, has gained significance. Central to the ability to meet every aspect of quality is the ARTPEC SoC.
The result of two decades of development is a SoC that is unique in the market thanks to several factors. One of the main ones is the fact that the ARTPEC SoC is specified and developed in-house. While this might not sound special at first, it is, in fact, the basis for many benefits the ARTPEC SoC delivers to customers.
Stefan Lundberg, an expert engineer at Axis, explains: “The ARTPEC SoC has always been optimized for efficient image processing and image compression – or in other words to fulfill the demands of the high-quality network video of tomorrow. It allows us to provide network cameras that not only offer extremely high image quality but also deliver high performance, good bandwidth efficiency, and the ability to run analytics at the edge including analytics based on deep learning. And due to in-house development, we can adapt the SoC exactly to our camera capabilities and, thereby, our customers’ needs.”
Security at the forefront
With cybersecurity being an increasingly important aspect of IP-connected cameras and a core customer concern, ARTPEC SoCs have been designed with current and future threats in mind. Indeed, owning the design and controlling the manufacture of the SoC itself allows for rapid revision and enhanced design in relation to the changing cybersecurity landscape.
Lundberg expands: “The fact that ARTPEC SoCs are designed in-house enables us to control the process – from architecture to finished SoC – and make sure there are no gaps in the chain that allow for the introduction of security vulnerabilities. Knowing our SoCs in such detail gives us a better chance of identifying and mitigating potential security risks much earlier than might otherwise be the case.”
The latest generation of the SoC, ARTPEC-8, builds on cybersecurity features introduced with ARTPEC-7. They include signed firmware – which ensures that only secure authorized firmware can be installed – and secure boot, which prevents the booting of unauthorized firmware. All new cameras will also include Axis Edge Vault for secure storage of cryptographic keys and certificates and some will feature Trusted Platform Module (TPM) for FIPS-compliant secure storage.
Deep learning on the edge and additional security benefits
Another significant ARTPEC-8 advantage that also has useful security benefits is its enablement of powerful deep-learning analytics ”on-the-edge,” where cameras have the processing power to analyze data within the camera itself. A principal benefit is highly granular real-time object detection and classification that will make it possible to develop powerful analytics that can automatically detect objects and distinguish between different kinds of objects, such as people and types of vehicles. These applications can be embedded directly into the device to analyze the video without having to send the data to a central server. And here lies an additional security benefit: analyzing data and anonymizing and creating encrypted data on the device at the edge before it is transferred to the data center significantly reduces the potential for loss of sensitive data.
To meet customer needs that impact which products we can develop in coming years, development of the ARTPEC SoCs is ongoing. A team of expert engineers looks into the future to ensure that the next generation of SoC design will meet all potential requirements.
The control we have over all aspects of the end product because we design our own SoC is, in our view, invaluable.
Lundberg concludes: “We are committed to the in-house development of our own SoC because, first and foremost, it allows us to create optimized solutions for network video surveillance applications. This, ultimately, is the principal reason our customers and partners choose Axis cameras. That said, other aspects need consideration – from security designed from the foundation, to lower overall system costs. The control we have over all aspects of the end product because we design our own SoC is, in our view, invaluable. I’m sure we’ll see many iterations of the ARTPEC SoC in decades to come.”