In this fifth and final installment of the BlueRiver applications blog series, we’ll look at how two Semtech products lines – Semtech’s BlueRiver® ASIC platform for Pro AV and SDVoE™, and broadcast Serial Digital Interface (SDI) – can enable a unique set of “SDI-over-IP” products and applications.
Whether you are watching an action replay of a baseball game on a giant screen at a stadium, a movie on your large-screen TV or streaming a video on your laptop computer, a high-quality audiovisual (AV) experience is always expected. Ultra-High-Definition Serial Digital Interface (UHD-SDI) and High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) are two standards for digital AV transmission. UHD-SDI standardizes the transmission of uncompressed and unencrypted digital AV signals over coaxial or fiber optic cables. HDMI is a digital interface for transmitting high-definition, high-speed digital multi-track audio and uncompressed video signals from HDMI-compliant sources to AV displays. Even though they both can transport ultra-high-definition AV signals from a source to a display, HDMI is preferred to connect consumer gadgets such as computers, gaming consoles, Blu-ray/DVD players, televisions, projectors, etc. UHD-SDI is preferred for high-end applications such as professional indoor/outdoor video production and television broadcasts because it supports long-range transmission and a rugged connection with the help of a physical lock mechanism at each end of the cable. UHD-SDI coaxial cable can transfer signals up to 300 feet, whereas HDMI cables struggle with excessive signal degradation even within 50 feet. These two interfaces can be used together via an HDMI-SDI or SDI-HDMI converter. For example, as shown in figure 1, an HDMI display would be used for confidence monitoring of an SDI stream to avoid the need to use specially calibrated SDI-specific displays.
I designed my first product using the Serial Digital Interface (SDI) back in 1996, and little did I know that this fledgling coax-based video interface standard would dominate my career for the next 20+ years. Back then, SDI was limited to carrying Standard Definition (SD) digital video at 270 Megabits per second (Mbps), but would evolve to higher and higher data rates to carry High Definition 720p, 1080i and 1080p, and most recently 4K Ultra High Definition (UHD) video, at cable lengths that were not thought possible. The convenience of a low cost single conductor coaxial copper cable, capable of carrying 4K video up to 100m has meant that SDI has become the de facto AV connectivity of choice in markets such as broadcast, Pro AV, medical and surveillance.