Ambarella, a chip maker that specializes in computer vision, says its latest S6LM camera chip will improve the clarity of both professional and home security cameras.

For those who use home security cameras, the picture quality is often bad. Night-vision images are often blurry and in black-and-white, while daytime images are often distorted because of shadows and bright sunlight. But the new chip improves both high-dynamic range (HDR, or both bright and shadowy lighting in the same image) and low-light processing, said Chris Day, vice president of marketing and business development at Ambarella, in an interview with VentureBeat.

The company has samples of the S6LM camera SoC (system‐on‐chip) product for both professional and home security cameras.

Ambarella's home security solution.

Above: Ambarella’s home security solution.

Image Credit: Ambarella

“It’s primarily focused on the security market,” Day said. “It is applicable to both pro security and home monitoring market. That means doorbell cameras. ATM cameras. Bullet cameras. Outdoor cameras. Battery-powered cameras. Indoor cameras. And automated number plate recognition cameras. It’s going to raise the quality of those cameras.”

The S6LM includes Ambarella’s latest high dynamic range (HDR) and low‐light processing technology, highly efficient 4K H.264 and H.265 encoding, multi‐streaming, on‐chip 360‐degree dewarping, cybersecurity features, and a quad‐core Arm central processing unit (CPU).

The chip is cheaper than other Ambarella vision processors because it doesn’t include the CVflow processor and instead relies on the Arm CPU. Still, the chip is software compatible with the CVflow family of chips.

Above: Ambarella’s new chips could power better home-security cameras.

Image Credit: Ambarella

The chip is made in a 10-nanometer manufacturing process, which brings down the power consumption, cost, and improves speed.

S6LM’s high performance and low power make it a fit for next‐generation professional cameras including mini‐dome, 360‐degree panoramic, and multi‐sensor IP cameras. It also offers a unique solution for home security applications such as battery‐powered cameras, video doorbells, and next‐generation passive infrared (PIR) video cameras.

An S6LM‐based battery‐powered camera or PIR video camera can shut down in less than one second when something such as an animal, shadow, or rain causes a false alert, effectively extending the camera’s battery life to between two and five years.

Above: Ambarella’s new chip has applications in professional security cameras.

Image Credit: Ambarella

“You can see if something moving is a person or a pet, but it does not have full face recognition,” Day said. “It’s going to have high quality for the high-contrast scenes.”

The S6LM supports Ambarella’s SmartHEVC (H.265) and SmartAVC (H.264) algorithms to deliver 4K video with bitrates as low as 512 Kbits/second.

We’ve all heard stories about home security cameras being hacked, but this chip includes a full suite of advanced cybersecurity features to protect against hacking, including OTP, secure boot, Arm TrustZone, and I/O virtualization.

Products using the chips should come out by early 2020.