GigE Vision is an interface standard for high-performance machine vision industrial cameras. It provides a framework for transmitting high-speed video and related control data over Ethernet networks. GigE Vision is a camera interface standard developed using the Gigabit Ethernet communication protocol. GigE Vision allows for fast image transfer using low cost standard cables over very long lengths. With GigE Vision, hardware and software from different vendors can interoperate seamlessly over GigE connections.

GigE Vision is a widely adopted interface, with dozens of leading companies currently offering hundreds of GigE Vision compliant products. GigE Vision offers many benefits including:

  • Fast data transfer rates – up to 1000Mbit/s (based on 1000BASE-T).
  • Data transfer length up to 100m (some producers claim even 150m). The use of switches, repeaters or fiber optic converters can increase the length. The performance of each implementation of the GigE Vision standard varies with the quality of the compliant equipment used. Some implementations will achieve very low latency, even in the presence of switches and repeaters, while others will not.
  • Based on established standard allowing networking with other Ethernet devices and computers.
  • Delivers a standardized environment for the delivery of new-generation, networked video applications based on switched client/server Ethernet architectures.

The Automated Imaging Association (AIA) oversees the ongoing development and administration of the standard. GigE Vision is a registered trademark of the AIA. The GigE Vision standard is an open standard. However, it is available only by signing a non-disclosure agreement. One consequence of the license is that it is not possible to write open source software using the GigE Vision specification, as it could reveal the details of the standard, which is why most image acquisition SDKs for GigE Vision are closed source.

GigE Vision Interface is based on the Internet Protocol standard. The standard is trying to unify protocols currently used in machine vision industrial cameras and let 3rd party organizations develop compatible software and hardware. GigE Vision Interface standard has four 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.
  • An XML description file based on a schema defined by the European Machine Vision Association’s GenICam standard. A datasheet that allows access to camera controls and image stream.

GigE Vision Interface accommodates networked video distribution applications that leverage switched Ethernet client/server video networks. Devices such as GigE Vision-enabled lights will now be automatically recognized by the computers on the network.