Editor’s Note: This content is contributed by Rob Green, Senior Manager - Pro AV, Broadcast, and Consumer
Any Media Over Any Network
In the ever-changing world of professional multimedia, the move to Ethernet and IP networking is one of the most important trends that is fundamentally transforming the industry. Audio and video (AV) are no longer constrained by point-to-point connectivity. Equipment is moving from large rack-unit capital expenditures to a more agile opex-based use of network-addressable platforms stored on-premises or in the cloud, and only provisioned when needed.
The demand for flexible connectivity options between various equipment (in the studio or via the cloud) is becoming more critical than ever. As such, supporting and bridging between traditional AV connectivity standards and IP networks is now a key component required in many multimedia systems (Figure 1).
Bridging between baseband AV and IP networks using AMD platforms
As with many legacy technologies found in broadcast and professional media systems, baseband AV connectivity is not going to be replaced by Ethernet overnight, particularly in endpoints. New standards for HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) and DisplayPort are regularly published, increasing speeds, and improving the video and audio formats that can be carried and displayed.
HDMI 2.1 is the latest version that supports 8K UHD video and is primarily found in consumer equipment such as TVs. DisplayPort 1.4 also supports 8K but is more commonly found in desktop computing applications and monitors, and version 2.1 is emerging to expand its capabilities further. SDI (Serial Digital Interface) is ubiquitous throughout broadcast and is still the main point-to-point connectivity used for all kinds of equipment from cameras to switchers and professional monitors. AMD supports all these standards with device features and intellectual property cores. They require high bitrate transceivers to move content on-chip and off-chip, and high-performance programmable logic to implement the standard formatting required. It’s even possible to implement a combination of these, or multiple channels, in the same device.
Much of the industry is now adopting Ethernet for AV transport. Although much more complex to set up and maintain compared to something like SDI, Ethernet is much more flexible and scalable to support higher resolutions and frame rates, can aggregate many channels in a single link, and can turn equipment from a standalone box into a remotely addressable processing platform. Building on the strength of 1Gbps-400Gbps Ethernet MACs available in AMD FPGAs and SoCs, a variety of popular and emerging IP networking protocols can be implemented to transport AV & data over the link. For instance, SMPTE ST 2110 is now the main standard for AV-over-IP in all broadcast applications, but NDI (Network Device Interface) is also hugely popular for streaming professional broadcast media over existing IP networks. NDI is also used in professional AV for live events, live streaming, and even collaboration.
Also in pro AV, a new standard is emerging called IPMX (IP Media eXperience), which aims to build on its ST 2110 foundations and offers the most scalable, open, and vendor-independent solution for AV-over-IP. For audio-over-IP, Audinate’s Dante has become the defacto protocol used in professional audio and live events and is now expanding into video with their new Dante AV offering. The choice of technology is dependent on factors such as latency, compression quality, use case, maturity, cost, and ease of use.
While many of these protocols use different codecs that can’t typically be interoperable with each other, it is possible to bridge between baseband AV and any of the IP networking protocols mentioned using our programmable hardware and Ethernet MACs, which can be used with intellectual property cores and reference designs from partners such as NDI, Audinate, Nextera Video & Adeas, Macnica, and intoPIX to implement whichever you like!
In this blog series, we’ll discuss Ethernet, NDI, IPMX, ST 2110, and Dante in more detail. We’ll highlight various use cases and solutions and show you how you can use AMD adaptive embedded compute platforms to reduce risk, keep your options open, and support any media over any network.