Dash Cam Processors

Many dash cams advertise what processor the camera is based on.  The processor is the CPU of the camera.  The 5 most popular processor manufacturers for dash cams are Novatek, CSR-Zoran, Ambarella, Texas Instruments, and Allwinner Technology.  There are many other manufacturers as well such as Alpha Imaging Technology, Syntek Semiconductor, iCATCH, SQ Technology and Core Logic.  If you own a dash cam, it is very likely that it has a processor from one of these 9 companies.  While the processor is important, the quality of the CMOS sensor and lens are key as well.  This is why different dash cams with the same processor can have dramatically different video quality.

Novatek

Novatek is a popular processor for low cost dash cams.  They have 3 popular chipsets that are often found in dash cams:

  • NT96650: 1080P 30fps, AVI format, H.264 compression, support WDR(HDR), support GPS
  • NT96632: 720P 30fps, (1080P 25fps interpolation), AVI format, H.264 Compression, NO WDR, most NO GPS
  • NT96220: 720P 30fps, (1080P 25fps interpolation), M-JPEG (NOT H.264, double file size), NO WDR, NO GPS

In 2013 the NT96650 processor was released and it has great video quality for the price.   Many of our best buys are based on this processor.

The NT96632 and the NT96200 should be avoided due to their low quality.  Many poor quality dashboard cameras come with these 2 Novatek chips due to the low cost of the processor.  Some dash cams that use this processor are the Carcam K2000, the Rearview Mirror DVR, Smallest HD 720p DVR and the 808 #16 Key Cam.

K2000 Novatek Processor – NT96632BG

Fake GS1000 with a Novatek Processor – NT96220FG

Zoran

Zoran (acquired by CSR) is a mid-range processor and some models have very good video quality.  These CSR-Zoran Processors fall into families named “Coach” (stands for Camera on a Chip) and they also have a ZR part number. The newest is Coach 16 but most dash cams are using chips in Coach 10 or 12.

Here is some info:

Coach 10 (4 models that I am aware of) – this is a fairly old processor family

COACH 10D (part # ZR36487BGCF) – For entry to mid range DSLR
COACH 10M (part # ZR36480BGCF) – For mainstream still and video cameras supporting standard definition video capture
COACH 10S (part # ZR36483BGCF) – For entry level still cameras
COACH 10P (part # ZR36482BGCF) – For high performance still and video cameras supporting HD (high definition) video capture and HDMI interface

Coach 12 (3 models – M, V and P but there appear to be variations)
Coach 12MDV (part# ZR364249BGCG) – entry level
Coach 12P (part # ZR364242BCCG) – mid level
Coach 12V (part # ZR364246BGCG) – higher level

Here is a slide on the different models (variations are shown).
Image

The DVR 027 previously used the Coach 10 ZR36482BGCF processor that records 720p at 30fps but newer models come with the Coach 12 ZR364249BGCG.  The newer DVR-207 also uses the Coach 12 ZR364249BGCG.

The F302A uses a higher end Zoran processor, the ZR364246BGCG, that records 1080p at 30 fps.

Most dash cams are not using Coach 13, Coach 14, Coach 15 or Coach 16 processors yet.

Original DVR 027 Zoran Processor

F302A Zoran Processor

Ambarella

Ambarella is one of the most popular 1080p processors for dash cams today.  The following table attempts to summarize the main Ambarella processor families and chips.

Family Chips Release Date
Ambarella A2 A2s60, A2s70

8-Jan-2007

Ambarella A3 A350, A380, A390

8-Jan-2007

Ambarella A5 A530, A550, A570

5-Jan-2009

Ambarella A5s A5s25, A5s30, A5s50, A5s90

7-Jan-2010

Ambarella A6

7-Sep-2010

Ambarella A7 A770

27-Nov-2010

Ambarella A7L

26-Sep-2011

Ambarella A7L-A A7LA50D

8-Jan-2013

Ambarella A9

8-Jan-2013

The A2 line of processors, launched in 2007, can be found in many dash cams.  The A2S60 processor can be found in the F500LHD, GS1000, F900LHD, V2000GS / V660, GS600 / GS300 / V1000GS, GSE550 / GSE520, and GS6000 dash cams.  Even though the A2S60 shoots at 1080p, the viewing angle is about 25° less than the 720p recording.  The Papago P2 and the GS8000 use the higher end Ambarella A2S70 processor.

GS1000 Ambarella A2S60

Recently, some dash cams have been released utilizing the Ambarella A5 processor.  This processor was launched in 2009.  The S1000 uses the A5S30 processor while the Papago P3 uses the A5S90 processor.  The GoPro Hero3 Black Edition is using the A770 processor.

S1000 A5S30 processor

Texas Instruments

In higher end cameras, typically from Korea, you will find Texas Instruments processors.  This processor records 1080p at 30fps.  The Blackvue DR400G-HD and Blackvue DR400G-HD II use the Texas Instruments TMS320DM368 Digital Media System-on-Chip

Allwinner Technology

Allwinner Technology currently produces the following 4 processors for use in dash cams.

Processor CPU GPU Channels Video Encoding
A31 Quad-Core Cortex A7 SGX 544MP2 1-CH 1080P@60fps
A20 Dual-Core Cortex A7 Mali-400MP2 2-CH 1080P@30fps or 1080P@20fps+D1
A10 Single-Core Cortex A8 Mali-400 2-CH 1080P@30fps or 1080P@20fps+D1
F20 ARM 926-EJS 2D 2-CH 1080P@30fps or 720P@20fps+D1

The F20 processor is quite popular in many dual dash cams.  This processor records 720p at 30fps for the front camera and 480p for the rear.  The i1000 / F70 / X6 Dual Lens camera uses this processor.

i1000 F20 Processor

Syntek

Syntek is not that popular in dash cams.  Some of the SD (480p) versions of the DVR-027 use the STK1262BLQG processor.  The following table lists the main processors sold by Syntek.  Notice they do not have a 1080p @ 30fps processor.

STK12XX/13XX VGA
STK2270 VGA
STK23XX/26XX 720p@30fps
STK2520 720p@30fps
STK2570 720p@30fps
STK4268 1080p@24fps

iCATCH

iCATCH is not that popular in dash cams today.  The following processors have been spotted in dash cams:

  • SPCA6330A
  • SPCA1628A (Often found in SD versions of the DVR-027)
  • SPCA1521A (Often found in SD versions of the DVR-027)

iCatch processors are also used in the Cansonic UDV-888, CDV-800
and Mio R25.

SQ Technology

SQ Technology is not as popular in the dash cam market but their SQ909B-L processor has been seen in the F70 / i1000 camera.

Core Logic

We have recently noticed the Core Logic Lucy CLM5520F2 in the Livue LB100 Dash Cam.  This is a Korean processor company.

Alpha Imaging Technology

Alpha Imaging Technology has a few processors designed for dashboard cameras with the AIT8427 being the most popular.  This chip is targeting the entry level cam market and can be found in cameras like the Mini D33 and Acco E20.

Published April 3, 2013

Last Updated: January 8, 2014