YOU MIGHT NEVER have heard of a company called HuperLab and we’re not going to hold that against you, but HuperLab is one of the biggest OEM/ODM solution providers of PC based DVR solutions and “intelligent video surveillance systems”. The company has now teamed up with ASRock to create a couple of custom DVR motherboards with some unusual features.
The first time we heard about HuperLab was when yours truly was invited over to its offices along with Gigabyte for a look at the first generation of DVR motherboards from the company. We’re not sure why that partnership ended, but that’s a different story. HuperLab is primarily a software company, but as it’s offering highly customized software, it also provide its own video capture hardware for various types of surveillance systems.
The surveillance market is moving more and more towards IP cameras, at least in new installations, especially models that support PoE (Power over Ethernet) as they only require a single cable rather than multiple cables as required by analogue solutions. However, there are still a lot of older installations out there where the recording equipment fails and there are also many hybrid solutions where an older setup has been partially upgraded to IP camera, yet retains some analogue elements.
Out of the two new boards that have come out of the HuperLab and ASRock partnership we’ll start with the latest model first, which is also the larger of the two boards. It’s not a super exciting product compared to what you find in your average desktop system, but these boards are focusing on long term product availability and reliability. The model is called Vento, although HuperLab has a few different configurations of this board that allow for 8, 16 or 32 simultaneous analogue video and audio inputs at 720×480 (PAL) or 720×576 (NTSC) pixels.
The board is based on the Intel G41 chipset and supports LGA 775 processors and DDR3 memory. It also has pair of Gigabit Ethernet ports that allow for IP cameras to be used as well as analogue cameras. The board has a total of eight SATA ports for storage and it’s available with a couple of different slot configurations. What appears to be a parallel port around the back is actually the interface for the analogue video capture part and a secondary port can be added via headers on the board. The reason for making such an intricate product is because it offers a lower total product cost and limits the amount of hardware that needs to kept in stock at the distribution side of things.
Slightly more interesting is the Gaia board, which is a mini-ITX board with a dual core Atom 330 CPU. Due to the small size of the board and the fairly large analogue video encoder chips, this board has a pair of DDR2 SO-DIMM slots and it’s limited to four SATA ports. Again, this board has a pair of Gigabit Ethernet ports and that parallel port which isn’t a parallel port. The Gaia can capture 4, 8 or 16 video streams simultaneously, depending on the model at the same resolutions as the Vento board.
Both of the boards work with HuperLab’s huperVision software which allows you to record the video in H.264, a custom Mpeg-4 like format or in Motion Jpeg. As a security solution the huperVision software offers some advanced features such as fire and smoke detection, missing/left objects, virtual fences (i.e. if someone crosses a pre-determined virtual line, an alarm will go off) and a wide range of other features that could come in handy depending on the surveillance object.
It seems like a smart move for ASRock to get into this market space, as although it might be a fairly low volume market, the margins are quite high. The Gaia board has an MSRP in the region of $400 which isn’t exactly cheap for an Atom powered motherboard, but then again, it’s not intended for consumer use. Of course the entire profit won’t be going to ASRock, but this is also a way of building its brand in a market where it previously might not have been known.S|A
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