NI Announces USB 3.0 Camera Support with NI Vision Acquisition Software August 2013

Publish Date: Dec 03, 2018 | 4 Ratings | 3.25 out of 5 | Print


NI-IMAQdx, part of the Vision Acquisition Software August 2013 driver package, supports USB3 Vision compliant USB 3.0 devices. This article explains what USB3 Vision is and the requirements for using a USB camera with LabVIEW.

1. What is the USB3 Vision Standard?

The USB3 vision standard is built on the SuperSpeed USB specification, otherwise known as the USB 3.0 specification. USB 3.0 is managed by the USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF) and offers a 400 MB/s throughput and 4.5 Watts of power (at 5V) to the device.

The USB3 Vision standard defines mechanisms for device discovery and identification, control, and image streaming. Hosted by the Automated Imaging Association (AIA), the global trade association for the vision and imaging industry, USB3 Vision will allow “plug and play” compatibility between a USB3 Vision device and a computer running a standard USB 3.0 interface. USB3 Vision builds off existing standards such as the GigE Vision and standard for Gigabit Ethernet devices. As such, cameras will have an XML file that defines supported camera features. USB3 Vision will use the GenICam programming interface to allow access to common and also vendor-specific features.

Figure 1: GigE and USB3 Vision Camera Standard Architecture


USB3 Vision also permits zero-copy image transfers of image data directly into host memory with no CPU usage. The standard also encompasses specifications for a standardized screw-lock USB 3.0 connector to secure cables to the devices and host machine.

Compared to the existing USB 2.0-based standard for machine vision cameras, USB3 Vision offers many benefits. The table below shows a high-level comparison between existing camera interfaces.


  USB 2.0 USB3 Vision FireWire A FireWire B GigE Vision Camera Link
Bandwidth 50MB/s 400MB/s 50MB/s 100MB/s 125MB/s 850MB/s
Cable length 3m 3m 4,5m 10m 100m 10m
Camera Standard N/A USB3 Vision IIDC (DCAM) IIDC (DCAM)



Camera Link
CPU usage High Low Medium Medium Medium Low
Cost Low



Medium Medium Medium High
Power over cable Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes

Figure 2: Comparison between camera interfaces

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2. What USB devices are now supported by the NI-IMAQdx Acquisition Driver?

Beginning with NI Vision Acquisition Software 2009, NI-IMAQdx (3.4 or higher) support has been included for any USB 2.0 device with a DirectShow interface. Supported devices include cameras, webcams, microscopes, scanners, and many other consumer-grade imaging products that expose imagining functionality through a DirectShow interface.

Starting with NI Vision Acquisition Software August 2013, National Instruments is adding support for the USB3 Vision standard. To be compatible, a camera must comply with the AIA USB3 Vision Specification version 1.0 or later, and the USB3 Vision compliance logo should be shown on the camera or in the marketing literature, as seen in Figure 3 below.

Figure 3: The USB3 Vision Logo

Note that even though the marketing literature for a USB camera may indicate that it is USB3 Vision compliant, it is possible that the firmware on the camera is outdated and must be updated in order to achieve full USB3 Vision compliance as indicated in the literature.  Contact the camera manufacturer to verify if the camera is USB3 Vision compliant and to request a firmware update that is compatible with USB3 Vision.

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