Skip to main content

How SDVoE™ Enables Interoperability in Pro AV

12 May 2020 / by Helgi Sigurdsson

How SDVoE™ Enables Interoperability in Pro AVAll Software Defined Video over Ethernet (SDVoE™)-type AV distribution endpoints are interoperable, regardless of vendor or origin. But why are these endpoints interoperable? What is it that helps guarantee this interoperability?

SDVoE Defined

To answer this question we need to take a step back and understand SDVoE. Many people understand that ‘Video over Ethernet’ spells out distribution of video over standard networking infrastructure, i.e., Ethernet. But what does ‘Software Defined’ mean? This first part spells out and highlights that both the signal routing system configuration and control of AV signals are applied through software and programming constructs. More information about what exactly SDVoE signifies become apparent when visiting the SDVoE Alliance® website, where the mission statement is displayed prominently on the home page.

SDVoE Ecosystem

When reading the statement carefully there are multiple keywords that stand out, including: ‘manufacturers,’ ‘designers,’ ‘integrators,’ ‘technology managers,’ ‘Ethernet,’ ‘AV distribution,’ ‘interoperability,’ ‘standardization,’ ‘SDVoE platform,’ ‘user experiences,’ and the statement essentially promises the following:

Technology and service providers are working together and using the SDVoE platform to deliver custom, yet standardized and interoperable, AV experiences to end users.

What exactly is the SDVoE Platform?

First and foremost, SDVoE is a technology platform which is built upon two key technology components.

10G Ethernet

The first component is the family of networking technologies known as 10 gigabit Ethernet. 10G Ethernet is an Ethernet standard and governed by IEEE specifications. The main 10G Ethernet specification is IEEE 802.11ae, from 18 years ago (2002), and covers 10G Ethernet over fiber. In 2006, a new version, IEEE 802.3an, was released that specified 10G Ethernet over unshielded or shielded twisted pair cables for distances up to 100 meters.

Semtech’s BlueRiver® Platform

The second component is an AV routing and processing technology platform known as BlueRiver®. This BlueRiver technology that the SDVoE platform uses is owned by Semtech, and standardizes how AV signals are sent and controlled over a network, thus ensuring the vendor interoperability that end users greatly value and take for granted dealing with other industries. A good example is IT, where for example, a printer from one vendor can and is expected to work with a computer from another vendor.

BlueRiver Platform

The BlueRiver platform itself consists of two components: a hardware component and a software component. The hardware component is a System on a Chip Integrated Circuit (SoC IC), i.e., the BlueRiver chipset. While the software component is an Application Programming Interface (API), i.e., the BlueRiver API.

SDVoE Guarantees Interoperability

The hardware component, the BlueRiver chipset, is found inside all SDVoE-enabled endpoints and edge devices. Inside transmitter (TX) devices, the chip is used to convert AV source signals into network packets. Conversely, inside receiver (RX) devices, the same BlueRiver chip is used convert the received network packets back into AV signals.


Having the same chipset on both the transmitter and receiver side means that transmitters and receivers from different vendors and manufactures can exchange and transport AV signals in a format that both understand. However, having both sides speaking the same language does not guarantee cooperation and interoperability. Something is still missing in terms of a higher function to discover and keep track of devices while deciding who is talking and when.

This is where the BlueRiver API, often referred to as the SDVoE API, comes into play. It implements the higher-level application functionality that includes:

  • Discovering devices, their capabilities and status/state
  • Configuring the internal functionality of each endpoint, including audio extraction/insertion or video scaling and cropping
  • Controlling all AV signal routing between endpoints
  • Managing EDID, and more…

The API itself is implemented as a software service (or control server) that lives somewhere on the network. Every SDVoE system includes at least one such service. To control and manage the SDVoE system, control clients or sessions communicate with the API service, which in turn communicates with individual endpoints.

AV Switching

By doing so, the service forms an abstraction layer between the customer experience (AV application) software and the hardware endpoints. Rather than accessing hardware directly, the application software interacts with the API service, which defines the virtual constructs that represent the individual components of an SDVoE system, including endpoints, sources, displays, and network.

The application software is therefore agnostic to underlying hardware and not tied to any particular vendor or manufacturer.

To summarize:

  • Every SDVoE endpoint includes a BlueRiver chipset; thus, endpoints from different vendors and manufactures can send and receive AV signals between each other
  • Every SDVoE system includes an SDVoE service that abstracts the hardware, thus making any SDVoE application hardware independent

The result is a platform that guarantees full and complete interoperability, not only on the hardware/endpoint level, but also between the application software and the physical endpoints.

And the Winner Is… the End User

This interoperability is a major benefit, not only to AV integrators and installers, but even more so to the system owner and the end user. Rather than locking themselves to a particular solution from specific vendors, AV integrators can now quote and propose the endpoint brand that best fits the specific use case. As an example, for a specific deployment, one could even decide to go with one brand of endpoints for secure meeting rooms while using another endpoint brand for the public spaces.

As a result, the end user can sleep well at night knowing they have the flexibility to expand their current AV system without needing to go with the same AV integrator or equipment vendor. They can now choose based on their own criteria of cost, value and quality.


Learn more about Semtech’s BlueRiver platform on our website.


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

Topics: Professional AV, BlueRiver, SDVoE

Written by Helgi Sigurdsson


Recent Posts

Posts by Author

See all