How To See If Your Camera Uses Huawei Hisilicon Chips

By: Ethan Ace, Published on Aug 30, 2019

Rarely do manufacturers disclose what SoCs (System on a Chip) they use, even though it is the core of IoT devices.

Interest in this has increased as supply chain risks generally and the debate over Huawei usage more specifically have risen including the US NDAA ban.

free image4

In this report, we show how to locate and access the SoCs inside common cameras so users may investigate themselves, including:

  • Where chips can be found inside cameras
  • How camera teardown and reassembly differ from camera to camera
  • The risks of tearing down cameras
  • SoCs used in example cameras

Chip Locations

The exact location of the camera's SoC varies from model to model. We take a look at cameras from Axis, Hikvision, and Uniview in this video, showing where the SoC is located and accessed and what each is using.

Disassembly And Reassembly Differences

Shown above, some chips are easily accessible just by removing a few screws, while others may require small security drivers and disconnection of multiple delicate cables.

Of the cameras used as examples here, the Axis camera was the simplest to access, only requiring a few screws to remove the camera module, with the SoC prominently labeled on the bottom.

Get Notified of Video Surveillance Breaking News
Get Notified of Video Surveillance Breaking News

However, the Hikvision and Uniview models required removal of multiple multi-pin connectors, including one connecting the imager to the mainboard which uses very fine wires, easily damaged. After disconnecting these, several small screws must be removed to flip the cameras' main board over, with the SoC located underneath.

We review these details in this video:

Teardown Risks

Before taking apart any camera, users should consider two key risks in doing so:

  • Void warranties: Disassembling a camera can void the warranty, as most do not cover the vaguely defined "misuse". Users should expect to pay out of pocket for any future repairs if they damage the device while doing so.
  • Broken cameras: More critically, disassembling some cameras is a touchy process. The small gauge wires used to interconnect components are prone to pulling loose from multi-pin connectors, leaving sensors malfunctioning, IR not working, or cut filters stuck in one position.

Because of this, we strongly recommend users budget for a replacement if a camera is to be torn down. IPVM routinely tears down cameras as part of our tests so you can ask for input before doing so.

SoCs Used

The images below show details of the SoCs used in each of the cameras in this report:

Axis P3225-LVE Mk II: Axis ARTPEC-5

The P3225-LVE Mk II uses the ARTPEC-5, now two generations old, as Axis has begun releasing ARTPEC-7 cameras (see our test of the P1375-E) with signed firmware support, a machine learning engine, and improved low light/WDR.

Axis P3225-LVE Mk II Axis ARTPEC-5

That noted, Axis uses multiple SoC suppliers across their models including a notable number of Ambarella chips and a few Hisilicon ones for their Companion line.

Hikvision DS-2CD2725FWD-I: Ambarella S3LM

Hikvision's Performance Series 1080p model uses an Ambarella S3LM, released in 2015, which Ambarella describes as:

designed for small form-factor consumer H.265 cloud cameras up to 3M

Hikvision DS-2CD2725FWD-I Ambarella S3LM

Like Axis, Hikvision uses a variety of SoC suppliers, including Hisilicon in many models, Intel Myriad in their new DeepinView model, etc.

Uniview IPC3234SR3-DVZ28: HiSilicon Hi3516C

The Uniview 4MP model uses a Huawei HiSilicon Hi3516C V300 (.pdf link), a SoC released in 2016.

Uniview IPC3234SR3-DVZ28 HiSilicon Hi3516C

So far, all the Uniview cameras we have torn down used Hisilicon chips, not that surprising considering they where effectively a spin-out of a Huawei business (before they were temporarily owned by Bain). That noted, like other vendors, it is certainly possible that some Uniview cameras do not use Hisilicon.

Determining HiSilicon chip capabilities may be especially confusing to those unfamiliar with their specs, as Hi3516 is not a part number, but a platform name. There are A, B, C, D, and E variants, and V100, 200, 300 versions, as well, with different capabilities.

Need Help?

Post a comment below or email us at info@ipvm.com

1 report cite this report:

Video Surveillance Cameras 101 on Feb 25, 2020
Cameras come in many shapes, sizes and specifications. This 101 examines the basics of cameras and features used in 2020. In this report, we...
Comments (18) : Members only. Login. or Join.

Related Reports

Hanwha Moves Global Manufacturing From China To Vietnam - Factory Visit Report on Mar 05, 2019
In a Vietnamese industrial zone surrounded by rice fields and small countryside towns, Hanwha Techwin has started a factory that produces most of...
Avigilon USA Factory Visit Report on Apr 01, 2019
In a building that looks more like corporate offices than a 'factory' and just down the road from suburban housing developments is Avigilon's USA...
Spring 2019 50+ New Products Directory on Apr 08, 2019
We are compiling a list of new products for Spring 2019 and have over 50 already. Contrast to Fall 2018 New Products Directory and Spring 2018...
Axis ARTPEC-7 Chip Release Examined on Apr 08, 2019
For years, Axis essentially de-promoted their own chips. Now, they are reversing course. Axis has announced ARTPEC-7, their latest chip, which...
Hanwha Techwin Dropping Huawei on Jun 06, 2019
Hanwha Techwin is dropping Huawei Hisilicon from all of their products, the company has confirmed to IPVM. Inside this note, we examine Hanwha's...
Dahua Shipping To Mexican Manufacturer on Jun 07, 2019
Dahua has shipped ~300,000 pounds of parts to a Mexico manufacturing facility, IPVM has verified in shipping records. Inside this note, we...
3 Weeks Later, Honeywell Still Cannot Say Whether They Are Vulnerable To Dahua Wiretapping [Now Admits] on Aug 27, 2019
The Dahua wiretapping vulnerability and Dahua's decision to delay disclosing it until IPVM inquired underscored problems with cybersecurity and...
US Army Base To Buy Banned Honeywell Surveillance on Sep 17, 2019
The U.S. Army's Fort Gordon, home to their Cyber Center of Excellence, has issued a solicitation to purchase Honeywell products that are US...
Lasers Impact on Surveillance Cameras Tested on Sep 25, 2019
Hong Kong protests have brought global attention to video surveillance and the ongoing attempts of protesters to disable or undermine those cameras...
2020 Video Surveillance Cameras State Of The Market on Jan 03, 2020
Each year, IPVM explains the main advances and changes for video surveillance cameras, based on our industry-leading testing and reporting. This...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Hazardous & Explosion Proof Access Control Tutorial on Feb 27, 2020
Controlling access to hazardous environments requires equipment meeting specific ratings that certify they will not start fires or will not...
Motorola / Avigilon Drops ISC West on Feb 26, 2020
Motorola Solutions has pulled out of ISC West 2020 effective immediately, because of coronavirus concerns, IPVM has learned. This is done amidst...
Cancel or Not? Industry Split Over ISC West on Feb 26, 2020
The industry is split, polarized, over whether ISC West 2020 should run or be canceled. New IPVM survey results of 400+ respondents show heated...
Coronavirus Hits Sony, Bosch Says Switch on Feb 26, 2020
Sony's fall in video surveillance has been severe over the past decade. Now, they may be done. In this note, we examine Bosch's new...
Video Surveillance Cameras 101 on Feb 25, 2020
Cameras come in many shapes, sizes and specifications. This 101 examines the basics of cameras and features used in 2020. In this report, we...
Favorite Video Analytic Manufacturers 2020 on Feb 25, 2020
Video analytics is now as hot as ever, driven by the excitement of advancing deep learning offers. But what are actually integrator's...
Latest London Police Facial Recognition Suffers Serious Issues on Feb 24, 2020
On February 20, IPVM visited another live face rec deployment by London police, but this time the system was thwarted by technical problems and...
Masks Cause Major Facial Recognition Problems on Feb 24, 2020
Coronavirus is spurring an increase in the use of medical masks, which new IPVM test results show cause major problems for facial recognition...
Every VMS Will Become a VSaaS on Feb 21, 2020
VMS is ending. Soon every VMS will be a VSaaS. Competitive dynamics will be redrawn. What does this mean? VMS Historically...
Video Surveillance 101 Course - Last Chance on Feb 20, 2020
This is the last chance to join IPVM's first Video Surveillance 101 course, designed to help those new to the industry to quickly understand the...