It’s been almost a year since the official launch of Semtech’s ASIC platform for Pro AV extension, routing and distribution. Two dedicated platforms were launched: AVX for point-to-point AV extension applications over copper category cable and optical fiber, and the BlueRiver® AVP series of devices for AV-over-IP and Software Defined Video Over Ethernet (SDVoE™) network-based applications. And what a year it has been! Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, customer uptake and product developments have certainly exceeded expectations, and 2021 will see the launch of an exciting range of Pro AV products powered by the new AVX and BlueRiver AVP ASICs.
With the launch of the BlueRiver® ASIC at the beginning of 2020, the AV over IP landscape is being redefined by products offering new levels of cost, performance and interoperability. As the core technology for Software Defined Video over Ethernet (SDVoE™), BlueRiver is recognized as the only IP-based technology capable of providing true video matrix-level performance, with pixel-perfect image quality and ultra-low latency. Supporting a broad range of markets and end-applications, such as live events, esports, medical, high-end residential, and command and control, system designers can take advantage of the powerful SDVoE Applications Programming Interface (API) to develop application-specific software running on a common BlueRiver-powered hardware platform.
In the world of Pro AV, point-to-point cable extension technologies are essential for transmitting AV content from point A to point B, where standard cabling just cannot go the distance. With the advent of HDMI, full bandwidth AV signals are sent in digital form at high data rates over shielded twisted pair (STP) cables, which typically max out at around 20 meters of reach. When carrying 4K video content, HDMI operates at up to six Gigabits per second (Gbps), and as data rate increases, so does the challenge of transmitting it over longer distances. Soon after HDMI transformed AV connectivity to digital, another technology was developed to extend these signals over standard copper networking infrastructure. This technology is called HDBaseT.
For most of my career at Semtech, I’ve been responsible for SDI-based products and technology, often extolling the features and benefits of copper-based, long-reaching audio and video (AV) signals. While SDI product lines matured into a meaningful business for the Signal Integrity Products (SIP) group at Semtech, there has been significant investment and record growth in optical fiber transmission technology for enterprise computing and communications. Fiber connectivity is now the backbone of worldwide communications with SIP optical products at the heart of this fiber revolution.
In my 20 years at Semtech, I have been fortunate to have worked on many interesting products and experienced many market successes along the way. However, being a part of the first BlueRiver® ASIC development was certainly a career highlight in many ways. First, it was a treat to be immersed in the amazing and innovative technologies that are the backbone of BlueRiver: 10G Ethernet, IP networking, advanced video processing, and high speed video to name but a few! Second, I was able to explore the broad applications and plethora of use cases in the exciting Professional AV market that will be enabled by, and benefit from, the BlueRiver ASIC. And finally, I had the pleasure of working with a world class team of engineers and professionals dedicated to growing the video business in Semtech’s Signal Integrity Products Group.
The world of computer gaming has come a long way since those distant days of challenging friends to beat the Frogger high score on my TRS-80 32k color computer. Back then, I could only imagine the possibilities this next generation of computer technology would enable. If I recall, back then I also wanted to be a rock star… the next Paul Stanley (don’t laugh!). Fast forward to 2019, and thanks to the Internet and social media, in the heady world of gaming and esports, you can be a “rock star” or at least as famous as one.
Semtech has just returned from InfoComm 2019, professional AV’s most anticipated event of the year, which hosted more than 40,000 attendees and 1,000 exhibiting companies. Once again, the SDVoE Alliance™ booth was abuzz with interested visitors eager to learn more about Pro AV’s next step beyond the matrix switch. Software Defined Video over Ethernet (SDVoE™) solutions, enabled by Semtech’s BlueRiver® technology, were on full display with visitors being treated to many educational sessions from SDVoE Alliance representatives, as well as a head-to-head demonstration of the SDVoE-based solution versus the traditional matrix switch.
Semtech’s BlueRiver® technology is transforming the matrix switch by delivering high fidelity and low latency AV solutions. These unique advantages are critical in medical applications such as surgery and accurate diagnosis. With BlueRiver-enabled Software Defined Video over Ethernet (SDVoE™) solutions, any video source up to 4K resolution is available anywhere at any time. Content from surgical scopes, X-ray and CT/MRI scans, patient records, and even custom signage and infotainment can be distributed via low cost 10G Ethernet networks to provide the most flexible medical AV systems.
The Pro AV market continues to show strong growth with AV over IP and the move to replace traditional matrix switch technology with standard, off the shelf Ethernet infrastructure set to revolutionize the industry across multiple applications and verticals. By contrast, the broadcast equipment market has shown single-digit growth for a number of years as broadcasters are slow to adopt IP-based technology and the new workflows required to meet the changing demands of content consumers. Uncertainty remains around the cost and complexity of the switch from SDI-based systems to all-IP switching, along with slow adoption of over-the-air standards for 4K video.