Using MIPI CSI-2 Cameras with the NVIDIA Jetson

Unlike other camera types such as USB or Gigabit Ethernet, there isn’t a universal or standard connection for the different MIPI camera connectors from vendor to vendor. When working on an embedded vision application, this can make finding standard hardware for projects confusing. Depending on the Jetson module you’re developing on, the requirements for selecting a compatible MIPI camera will differ.

Hardware Compatibility

There are three scenarios for using MIPI CSI-2 cameras with standard carrier boards: on-board connection, conversion boards, and expansion board.

Since the connector cable pinout for MIPI cameras tend to be vendor specific, many carrier boards will require either a conversion board or an expansion board to be attached to the carrier or system to allow for your preferred camera model.  Many camera vendors will have an expansion (or adapter) board that will allow you to connect directly to the NVIDIA Developer Kit, and these boards may or may not be compatible with your deployment Carrier Board. Alternatively, a conversion board that simply changes the connector type can be used. Lastly, in some cases the Carrier Board will have a specific connector that allows for direct camera connection; eliminating additional stacks on your device.

On-board VS Expansion Board Example


Cable connects directly into Carrier Board

On Board Example

Expansion Board

Expansion Board is installed on the Carrier, and cable connected to expansion board

Expansion Board Example

To simplify the options, only some modules in the Jetson lineup will allow for direct on-board camera connections:

Product MIPI Connector Connection Options
Jetson Nano Developer Kit MIPI CSI (15-Pin Connector) On-board or conversion board
Xavier NX Developer Kit MIPI CSI (15-Pin Connector) On-board or conversion board
TX2 Developer Kit MIPI Expansion Slot (High-density camera connector breakout) Expansion board only
AGX Xavier Developer Kit MIPI Expansion Slot (High-density camera connector breakout) Expansion board only

As more complex vision applications are being designed, customized hardware stacks with Carrier Board and multi-camera Expansion Boards are in high demand.

Camera Vendors

As the NVIDIA Jetson platform grows, more camera vendors are developing models that allow for direct connection to the Developer Kits. We’ve developed Carrier Boards that utilize vendor specific connectors, allowing for an easy to integrate hardware stack.

Below is a list of our off-the-shelf commercial Carrier Boards organized by their connector type:

Connector Type Jetson Nano/TX2 NX/Xavier NX Jetson TX2 Jetson AGX Xavier
MIPI CSI (15-pin Connector) Quark
MIPI Expansion Slot Elroy
I-PEX 30-Pin (FAW) Cable Spacely
FRAMOS Specific Connector Boson for FRAMOS
Allied Specific Connector Allied Vision MIPI Camera Board

Once you select your preferred camera model, simply determine the cable connector type to find a compatible Carrier Board.

Our Supported Cameras table has a full list of camera models linked to the compatible hardware. Click here to learn more.

To learn more about camera compatibility please email [email protected].

Software Compatibility

Once you have determined that your solution is compatible via hardware, there will likely be some software development required to use that camera with your application. As a general rule, if you get your camera working on a Jetson Developer Kit, it will be compatible with a Carrier Board for deployment. Beginning with the camera drivers, you can develop the software for successful communication with the Developer Kit. Once you move your application for deployment, there is a specific board support package (BSP) unique to your chosen module and JetPack version. BSPs are included with the purchase of a Carrier Board, but they do not include software specific configurations for all MIPI cameras on the market. Connect Tech has a range of camera models that have software hooks included within the BSP, eliminating the need for further integration development. Visit our Supported Cameras page to learn more.

You can choose to either self-develop or contract the software development for successful implementation of various camera models.

If you choose to self-develop the required software, we provide the source code for the BSP to help you with this process. In many cases, it is not only faster but also cheaper to contract us to develop the software to integrate your chosen cameras.

To enquire about BSP Camera Driver development, please email [email protected].

Integrated Vision Solutions

We are building ever expanding relationships with camera vendors in the Jetson Ecosystem. This has enabled us to develop specific hardware and software kits that work out-of-the-box without additional hardware or software resources. If you’re looking for rapid market deployment, these kits should be the first place you begin your search.

Click here for more information on the available vision solutions.