Examining Pixim's New WDR Seawolf ChipBy: John Honovich, Published on Oct 04, 2010
Pixim released a new chipset called Seawolf [link no longer available] for IP and analog cameras. The company claims that the Seawolf chip provides a 10x improvement in low light performance, improved WDR support, and accurate color representation within a single digital chip. A technical specification [link no longer available] and board camera brief [link no longer available] is available.
Speaking with Pixim, they clarified the 10x low light performance is from comparing Seawolf to their current Orca/Orca-E line of sensors. The specifications list the Orca having a minimum illumination of 0.8 lux, while the Seawolf is at 0.1 lux. We have not tested this chip, so we cannot verify the validity of this claim.
We asked about the Seawolf chip's WDR performance. Pixim explained that bright areas in a scene will perform similar to Orca, but for dark areas, the sensor's SNR is increased, revealing more details. Like the first claim, the validity of this point is not confirmed- This should be followed closely because of the industry's criticism toward Pixim and its history of poor low light WDR performance.
Pixim also elaborated on these additional points:
- The Seawolf line is not meant to replace Orca/Orca-E; Both chip sets will run in parallel.
- Seawolf supports up to D1 resolution. According to Pixim, they do not yet have MP camera support on their product roadmap.
- Seawolf chips began volume shipments in June, and Seawolf equipped cameras will be exhibited at ASIS.
Update: February 2011: We tested a camera using the Pixim Seawolf as part of our WDR comparative testing. While the low light performanced did show improvements, the WDR performance of both cameras using Pixim chips were inferior to MP WDR camera rivals. Review our WDR test results including Pixim.