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Why does next-gen video studio need Ethernet infrastructure?

Why does next-gen video studio need Ethernet infrastructure?

Ramnath Sagar, technical marketing manager at Mellanox Technologies, notes that the legacy serial digital interface (SDI) technology is unable to keep up with the requirement to send uncompressed video signals across the broadcast centre. "Furthermore, SDI is simply just not flexible enough going forward. For instance, SDI can waste over 35 percent of the data bits communicated, depending upon the video resolution and frame rate," he points out.

He further explains that these data bits are largely redundant and not necessary. Moreover, as a proprietary, hardware defined interface, it does not offer the flexibility and extensibility of software-based solutions on top of industry standard networking solutions.

"The desire for something better is causing a major technology upheaval in the industry: the migration from SDI to IP-based studio infrastructure," he says.

At IBC 2015, the premier annual event for professionals engaged in the creation, management and delivery of entertainment and news content worldwide, a Joint Task Force of Networked Media (JT-NM) announced a reference architecture - a conceptual model for interoperability to allow end users and manufacturers to benefit from the flexibility, scalability and cost saving of this IP-based approach.

"While the JT-NM laid out the reference architecture, the task of creating interoperable solutions was left to initiatives such as Video Services Forum (VSF) TR03 and TR04 and Advanced Media Workflow Association (AMWA) Networked Media Incubator projects and the resulting Networked Media Open Specification (NMOS)," continues Sagar. "Mellanox, a member of JT-NM, VSF and AMWA, has worked with the community to develop an innovative solution wherein we have implemented the three major components of the reference architecture as micro services on the fabrics."

These three components are:
· Registration and Discovery Services: Ensures that all devices, specifically senders (video camera) and receivers (multi-viewer, mix out) on a broadcast IP network infrastructure can find each other, and obtain appropriate information about each other and their corresponding capabilities and functionality.
· Connection Manager: Provides the ability for the user to "take" and/or "park" networked video streams to any of the receivers (that is, multi-viewers). On demand, the Connection Manager sends the required meta-data to the receiver, which, in turn, connects to the requested multicast network video stream. Finally, the receiver updates the registry to notify the network that is displaying the requested video
· Web App: Provides a 360-degree view of the broadcast IP network. It visualises the current situation within the network displaying the requisite nodes, devices, senders and receivers. It displays each devices capabilities and functionality. It also shows the current relationship between receivers and senders allowing the user to see exactly which video stream is being displayed

"In addition to providing the industry's highest application fairness and zero packet loss for video applications, Mellanox Spectrum switches fully support containers like lxc and Docker thereby allowing applications and micro-services to be hosted on the switches," says Sagar.

Running these micro-services on Mellanox Spectrum switch provides three major benefits:
1. Ease-of-scale and management by replicating these micro-services across several switches especially in an environment where there are hundreds of cameras;
2. Efficient and simplistic implementation since the reference architecture demands these micro-services close to the fabric and; and
3. Elimination of unnecessary servers for processing in environments that do not require one.

"At this year's IBC during September 2016, Mallanox worked with the Joint Task Force on an interoperability demo to showcase this capability along with 45 other technology partners. Mellanox, Arista and Cisco were the three network vendors in this demo ,and Mellanox was the only one to support both the transport service and the registration service on the fabrics. This is why, when it's time to choose your next networking technology provider for your media data centre, choose Mellanox," concludes Sagar.

Value-added distributor, Networks Unlimited, distributes Mellanox products and solutions throughout Africa. For more information, please contact Anton Jacobsz, managing director at Networks Unlimited, at

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