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BlueRiver® Applications Part 2: Replacing the Matrix Switch

13 June 2022 / by Gareth Heywood


The BlueRiver® platform is Semtech’s award winning technology for AV-over-IP, which is one of the fastest growing segments in the Professional AV signal distribution market. As the core technology that powers Software Defined Video over Ethernet (SDVoE™), BlueRiver has been demonstrated to be the only AV-over-IP technology that can provide matrix switch-like performance, delivering pristine 4K resolution video with imperceptible latency, along with multichannel audio and control signals, such as USB, Infrared and Consumer Electronic Control, all over standard 10 Gigabit Ethernet networks using a common control Application Programming Interface (API).

For this second installment in the BlueRiver applications for Pro AV blog series, we’ll take a look at how SDVoE enables the most cost efficient and feature-rich AV-over-IP systems for applications typically using the traditional matrix switch topology.

Replacing the Traditional Matrix Switch

From its inception, Semtech’s BlueRiver technology was primarily developed to replace the traditional matrix switch for AV distribution in Pro AV. The first diagram below illustrates the typical way you would distribute AV signals throughout a facility using a centralized matrix switch. Each remote source on the left would be paired with a transmitter (TX) box which encodes the AV content into a format for longer distance transmission, typically over copper category cable, to the matrix switch for routing to destinations. Conversely, the same mechanism is used to send content to the remote displays, each paired with a receiver (RX) box for decoding the signal back to HDMI, for example.

Traditional Matrix Switch Topology

Using BlueRiver, the dedicated matrix switch, which is typically a large piece of expensive, bespoke hardware, is replaced by a standard 10 Gigabit Ethernet switch, as shown in the diagram below. The core of an SDVoE network is the Ethernet switch which provides a much more flexible and scalable architecture for AV signal distribution. Ethernet switches can be provisioned for future expansion by trunking or “stacking” multiple switches together to create a larger switching fabric.

With the matrix switch approach, each link between the TX and RX endpoints and the matrix switch requires decoding back to baseband signals within the matrix switch itself, where audio, video and control require separate switch fabrics. With SDVoE, the audio, video and control source content is encoded to IP packets at the TX, and routed using standard IP protocols to the RX for decoding back to the original content. Each type of content is packetized and routed independently, allowing endpoints to only subscribe to the content needed, making IP routing and distribution much more flexible, efficient and cost effective.

You can also see in the traditional approach above that there’s additional hardware on the right, which is required to support applications such as video walls or multiviewers. All the necessary processing for these applications is integrated directly into the BlueRiver-enabled endpoints. Every SDVoE endpoint in the diagram below includes an advanced AV processing engine, capable of cropping and scaling images for video walls, or compositing multiple video sources into a single multiview image. Since SDVoE is network-based, you only need one receiver with a single connection to the switch, which can then be subscribed to multiple sources, or IP streams, simplifying the design of a multiviewer. Each receiver can subscribe to up to 32 sources simultaneously, within the constraints of the network bandwidth.

44f61ef2-e77e-11ec-935a-525400c74c14Flexible, Scalable & Cost Efficient SDVoE Topology

At the most basic level, the SDVoE system provides switching and distribution of AV content via an Ethernet network, to provide the same functionality you would expect from a legacy matrix switch based system. With integrated USB connectivity on every BlueRiver device, KVM applications can be supported including integration with third-party KVM control software, to enable sophisticated remote desktop applications (see the BlueRiver Applications Part 1: KVM blog).

Putting all these pieces together significantly reduces system costs and the reliance on bespoke hardware solutions. SDVoE systems can be reconfigured using software, providing simple AV switching one day, to full featured video wall, multiviewer and KVM applications the next.

Inside the Box

So what’s needed to do simple AV switching and distribution with BlueRiver? In each endpoint, only a handful of major components are required; an HDMI port switch for managing the connectivity to AV sources and sinks, and in the transmitter example shown below, an AVP1000 BlueRiver device at the core. The AVP1000 is the lowest cost device in the BlueRiver portfolio of parts, designed specifically for low latency AV switching and distribution where AV processing is not required. For the SDVoE TX, we’re pairing the AVP1000 with a 10GBaseT PHY device for copper connectivity, ideal for direct replacement of existing copper category cable-based matrix switch systems.

SDVoE Transmitter Core Components

By upgrading to the AVP2000, designs can provide optical fiber network connectivity using standard SFP+ optical modules, perfect for larger campus-scale deployments, where greater than 100m cable extension is required. A similar configuration is used for the SDVoE RX, as shown below. In fact, a single BlueRiver-based design can be implemented which can be dynamically configured as a receiver or transmitter, reducing the need for multiple product variants and simplifying inventory.

SDVoE Receiver Core Components

Comprehensive reference designs supporting both copper and fiber connectivity are available from Semtech, allowing equipment manufacturers and software developers to quickly evaluate the low latency performance of BlueRiver AV-over-IP technology, and prove to themselves that SDVoE truly provides matrix switch level performance. There’s still more to come in the BlueRiver Applications Blog series, including a look at how SDVoE, powered by BlueRiver, is the ideal AV switching and distribution system in video wall and multiviewer applications.

You can learn more about the power and flexibility of BlueRiver solutions for SDVoE in the webinar, “BlueRiver Applications for SDVoE,” and why key Pro AV applications, from matrix switch replacement to full end-point integration require the power and flexibility of SDVoE at theSemtech Professional AV Application web pages.

Discover Semtech’s BlueRiver chipset for SDVoE applications

Semtech, the Semtech logo and BlueRiver are registered trademarks or service marks of Semtech Corporation or its affiliates. SDVoE is a trademark or service mark of the SDVoE Alliance®.

Topics: Professional AV, BlueRiver, SDVoE

Written by Gareth Heywood


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