Reference Designs Turning Turnkey
a&s International | Date:
With rapid technological advances in the security industry, functionality is no longer the only concern for solution providers and end users alike. Getting the right product to market quickly is just as important as meeting customer needs. Reference designs can help significantly reduce development time and cost.
Reference designs are tested and proven products that are fully functional and can go straight to production. “In order to be a true reference design, the board must be fully functional and designed in such a way that it can be manufactured in volume as is,” said Bob Beachler, VP of Marketing, Operations and System Design, Stretch. “This means not only is the feature set of the reference design applicable for the marketplace, but that the board has gone through FCC and CE compliance testing and has completed a Highly Accelerated Life Test.”
Developing a product from scratch can take a significant amount of resources. “The networking functions, video framework, operating systems and all the other basic functionality can each take months or even years to develop and stabilize,” said Cyril Clocher, Video Security Business Unit Manager, DSP Systems, Semiconductor Group at Texas Instruments. “Basing a product on a reference design has the advantage of having all the basic functionality already available and tried and tested for quality, reliability and performance.”
Component suppliers release reference designs as an integrated platform. Their engineers have extensive knowledge of the components used, and they can ensure everything works well together. “The components used in the design are tested extensively by experts in their respective fields to optimize reliability and performance. The result is a rock-solid platform that is fully functional in itself, yet provides the flexibility for solution providers to customize and optimize on their areas of expertise, which can be, among others, the image pipeline, analytics, advanced networking or video compression,” Clocher said.
If the reference design is based on a scalable, programmable solution, there is more flexibility for a manufacturer to differentiate its products, Beachler said. “Some common areas of customization include adding additional chips to increase the channel count, providing optimized GUIs and/ or sophisticated video overlays, building in advanced networking features such as PSIA and ONVIF support, or providing different form factors to cater to different settings such as mobile DVRs for buses, trains, police, or rack-mounted units for large installations. Manufacturers can also provide a mixture of standard definition, HD and network camera support through simple hardware and software changes.”