The market for semiconductors used in network surveillance cameras will continue to expand this year amid rising concerns over public and personal safety, according to an IHS iSuppli Industrial Electronics report from information and analytics provider IHS.
Revenue in 2013 for semiconductors used in network surveillance cameras will amount to a projected $307.1 million, up 34 percent from $228.6 million. This year marks the second of what will be a remarkable three-year run of revenue expansion north of 30 percent-given last year's 33 percent increase along with the anticipated 30 percent rise in 2014-as the market closes in on $700 million by 2017.
Network surveillance cameras are used not only in public spaces to make streets and cities safer, but also in privately owned facilities, parking lots, factories and industrial areas to survey particular areas or to observe a process from a central control room. While analog cameras carry a lower cost, they cannot be used over large distances and often lack some of the more advanced features present in network counterparts.
Network cameras, on the other hand, are better suited for remote surveillance needs, being accessible through the Internet while also offering strong wireless support and encryption. They also provide high-definition images, intelligent analytics and local storage-benefits not offered by analog.
The largest market for network cameras is in North America, which is able to afford higher-end equipment compared to other parts of the world. Analog counterparts, meanwhile, are the first choice in China, whose large share in the analog segment slows down the adoption rate overall of network cameras in the entire Asia-Pacific region. Nonetheless, Asia will become the second-largest market for network surveillance cameras by 2015 after North America, bumping Europe to third place as the continent continues to suffer the financial fallout from the Eurozone crisis.
Shipments of network cameras will amount to 8.2 million units this year, up from 6.1 million in 2012, on their way to 20.2 million units by 2017.
Overall, surveillance cameras are fulfilling their roles in helping allay continuing concerns on manifold issues related to security. Economic unrest in many parts of the world have led to a greater emphasis on personal safety, while terrorist-related incidents continually cast a challenge on ensuring the public's well-being in areas of mass gatherings and assemblies.
Semiconductor content thrives in network cameras
In a network camera, the four main functions include image acquisition, performed by image sensors; image signal processing, accomplished via an application-specific block; compression, carried out by either the core processor or in some cases the application-specific components; and transmission of the information, made over Ethernet.
For its part, the core or main processor serves as the nerve center of the camera, managing system data flow to and from the image processor and compression subsystems, as well as controlling network communication for the camera.
Of the various architectures that can be used for the main processor, System-on-Chip (SoC) devices enjoy very high penetration in network cameras because of their lower power consumption. SoC pricing varies depending on the type of resolution employed by the camera, with costs ranging from $10 for half high-definition (HD), to $30 for full HD, and up to $60 for 4K ultra HD. The Top 5 SoC manufacturers for network surveillance cameras include Dallas-based Texas Instruments;, Ambarella of California; China's HiSilicon; Grain Media from Taiwan; and Stretch Inc., also of California.
Aside from SoCs, network camera processors can also take the form of a field-programmable gate array (FPGA) or digital signal processor (DSP), but both of these are less frequently deployed.
A trend is also present to use multicore central processing units in the cameras in order to provide more processing performance.
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