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Any Media over Any Network Part 3 - NDI simplifying Professional AV

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Editor’s Note: This content is contributed by Gordon Lau, Systems Architect - Pro AV, Broadcast, and Consumer.



The multimedia needs of today’s modern house of worship, enterprise workplace, and even professional video studio has grown significantly in the past 10 years. Today’s content creators demand equipment and infrastructure that supports high-quality, low-latency video free from the restrictions imposed by traditional baseband video interfaces such as HDMI™, DisplayPort™, or SDI.  Creators want long transmission distances, multi-channel video, and flexible routing of audio and video essences, just to name a few.  With the transition to IP-based flows, audio, video, and data can now be combined onto a single Ethernet cable where the content can be edited, separated, combined, and transported across IP networks locally and globally.  While there are several options in the market to accomplish this, one of the protocols in the market gaining momentum because of its performance and simplicity is Network Device Interface, also known as NDI®.


Networking media is hard, what makes NDI so easy?


Today’s high-definition broadcast media content can be as much as 3 Gigabits/second of data, and UHD 4K content is four times that amount! Even the simplest of studios utilize other features in the content creation process such as managing and combining audio, signaling (such as tally lights), audio return channels, and subtitling, all of which can complicate things further!  Networking engineers can tell you that managing these sorts of bandwidths, while balancing the needs of low-latency, high quality, and frame-synchronized audio and video used to be very challenging. How does NDI solve many of these challenges to support modern IP-based production workflows of streamers and broadcasters alike?

NDI solves many of the networking basics for content creators by automating network/device discovery and registration.  The protocol does this via mDNS (multicast Domain Name System), allowing for all endpoints such as cameras, displays, and switchers to automatically detect and work with other devices on the same subnet, removing the need for device setup and registration. To expand beyond the local network, NDI has a free tools suite which contains utilities to implement a mDNS gateway that makes it easy to move NDI streams globally!

To address the large bandwidth required by video, NDI offers two formats: NDI High Bandwidth and NDI|HX. NDI High Bandwidth utilizes a lightweight Intraframe codec called SpeedHQ (SHQ) which has been proven to provide high-quality video from its use in broadcast contribution. The high efficiency format, NDI|HX, is based on H.264 (AVC) and H.265 (HEVC) codecs which can be used for recording or long-distance transmission since it utilizes approximately 1/10th of SHQ’s bandwidth. The most updated version of the NDI|HX format, NDI|H3, takes efficiency to a new level, moving video with an overall quality similar to that of NDI High Bandwidth but using significantly less bandwidth (around 80 Mbps). A typical HD and UHD NDI high bandwidth stream are approximately 125Mbps and 350Mbps respectively, delivered in less than one field of latency, allowing for multiple streams of audio/video to be carried easily over standard 1Gbps networks. In addition to just the audio/video payload, NDI also accommodates additional data to enable features such as bi-directional data for essential tools (such as tally and PTZ controls), or flexible routing to enable audio return channels for stage direction, to name a few.  The latest NDI Tools suite contains utilities like test pattern sources and studio monitors, as well as other more powerful features to enable webcam, desktop, or VLC content available as NDI streams. The tools suite also includes plugins for industry standard tools such as Adobe® After Effects and Adobe Premier.

Fig 1: NDI on the AMD booth at ISE2023. Lumens and BirdDog NDI cameras, Magewell and Kiloview NDI<>HDMI converters, and SWIT NDI monitor all connected and controlled via a NewTek Tricaster.Fig 1: NDI on the AMD booth at ISE2023. Lumens and BirdDog NDI cameras, Magewell and Kiloview NDI<>HDMI converters, and SWIT NDI monitor all connected and controlled via a NewTek Tricaster.


How to integrate NDI into my product today?

NDI has partnered with AMD to provide NDI high bandwidth implementations on both AMD 28nm Zynq™ 7000 devices, and 16nm Zynq™ Ultrascale+™ MPSoC devices, with an Advanced SDK to enable developers to easily integrate NDI and get to market quickly. NDI takes full advantage of AMD in programmable logic for the SHQ codec, combined with the full-featured processing subsystem to enable a highly integrated, cost-effective solution today! For customers looking for a hardware module to integrate NDI, an AMD KRIA™ SOM can support NDI integration onto your product using the provided pre-built NDI feature on the app store. Contact the NDI team today for more information, or check out their website (