A few times, my readers told me they really like comments on this blog, and they liked to check recent comments on the left sidebar, and some even subscribed to the Comments RSS Feed, although it might quite busy at times, especially during giveaways. Recently, an interesting conversation started in the comments section about low cost IP camera chips by Grain Media 8136S and 8138S SoCs respectively supporting 720p and 1080p video recording, and cheap enough to make a sub-$10 IP camera board (BoM cost).
Beside the maximum resolution supported, GM8136S and GM8138S are mostly similar except the later also supports Gigabit Ethernet against Fast Ethernet for the lower end version, different clock speeds, and some other (minor?) differences. There’s also GM8135S with 512 Mbit RAM (SiP) against 1Gbit RAM (SiP) for GM8136S, and GM8138 including a DDR controller for external memory, while GM8138S including 1Gbit RAM (SiP).
Grain Media GM813x specifications:
- GM8136S / GM8135S – 32-bit ARM CPU core up to 600MHz
- GM8138S / GM8138 – 32-bit ARM CPU core with 256KB L2 cache @ 400 MHz (GM8136S) or 800 MHz (GM8138)
- Memory Interface
- GM8136S: SiP 1Gb DDR; GM8135S: SiP 512Mb DDR
- GM8138: 16-bit DDRII/III SDRAM interface; GM8138S: SiP 1Gb DDR
- SPI NOR/NAND flash boot
- Video Codec
- Video Input
- MIPI, Parallel, Sub-LVDS. GM8138(S) only: Hispi
- YUV x 2 for 2-channel 720P; GM8138(S) only: – 4*960H demux
- Video Capture
- BT.656 input (up to 148.5 MHz)
- BT.1120 input (up to 148.5 MHz)
- Support 54MHz/108MHz and 72MHz/144MHz byte/frame interleave modes
- Image Signal Processing – Temporal and spatial 3D-Denoise filtering; Digital-WDR; WDR sensor; tone mapping; low lux sensitivity to ISO6400; embedded IVS engine
- Display Interface
- Built-in BT.1120 digital output; GM8138(S) only: RGB digital output
- Support composite/parallel up to FHD output
- GM8136S/GM8135S: 10/100M Ethernet MAC; GM8138(S): Gigabit Ethernet MAC
- USB 2.0 OTG, USB 1.1 Device (Note: The latter is not listed for GM8138(S)).
- 2x SDIO
- I²C, UART
- Operating Voltage
- GM8136S/GM8135S – Core: 1.1 V; DDR: 1.5/1.8 V; I/O: 3.3 V
- GM8138(S) – Core: 1.15V; • DDR: 1.5 V; I/O: 3.3 V
- GM8136S/GM8135S – 128-pin EPADLQFP
- GM8138(S) – GM8138: 256-pin BGA; GM8138S: 196-pin BGA
There’s not much information about software support and devkits on the company website, and that’s an understatement, but the company allegedly provides a (Linux?) SDK and an hardware platform for less than $1,000, with the price including factory support.
If you’d like to evaluate the platform before spending money on the SDK, and possibly working around high MOQ requirements of distributors, you could purchase a camera based on Grain Media SoCs for evaluation such as TVT Digital TD-9433T IP camera featuring GM8138S SoC.
GM8136S SoC combined with Espressif ESP8089 Wi-Fi SoC should cost less than $6 in larger quantities, and for smaller quantities, GM8136S should cost around $7. You’ll also need to add an SPI flash to have a complete design. I don’t have price information for GM8138(S) solutions.
[Update: A company called SAC Group recently launched IP camera solutions based on Grain Media 813x SoCs. The link (in Chinese) shows some combinations of chips for their solutions (flash memory, DDR3 chips, drivers, IR LEDs and so, as well as the board pictured below.
They also mentioned Grain Media GM8139 chip that supports 1080p60 encoding]