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.
For those of you that have been in Pro AV for decades, confusion is not something new. Remember the analog sunset? Remember HDCP? Remember going over-IP? Fortunately, confusion is a phenomenon that disappears over time.
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.
All 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?
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.
In the first installment of this two-part blog series, I touched on the Codec Triangle and several factors that make up a complex relationship between bandwidth, latency and quality in Pro AV. Additionally, I discussed video image compression and the harmful effects it can have on your picture. SDVoE™-based Pro AV solutions, built on Semtech’s BlueRiver® technology, are transforming the matrix switch and allowing uncompressed, low latency AV content up to 4K60 over standard Ethernet infrastructure. SDVoE-based solutions are uniquely equipped to fight the harmful effects of compression by leveraging Ethernet. In this blog, I will break down common compression codecs used in the AV space today and offer insight into the pros and cons of each for your application.
The professional AV market continues to show strong growth with Software Defined Video over Ethernet (SDVoE™)-based infrastructure set to replace traditional matrix switching technology in the near future. SDVoE solutions, built on Semtech’s BlueRiver® technology, offer a few fundamental advantages for AV systems allowing uncompressed, low latency AV distribution over standard Ethernet infrastructure. In the AV world, a common gauge for how well your solution distributes AV content lies in how well it manages the “Codec Triangle.” Similar to the old adage: “good, fast and cheap, pick two,” the Codec Triangle refers to a similar scenario for bandwidth, latency and quality in regard to video compression and distribution over standard network infrastructure. In this two-part blog series, I will use the Codec Triangle to illustrate why BlueRiver-enabled SDVoE solutions deliver a better Pro AV user experience than any other AV distribution solution, including best in class AV over IP and matrix switch solutions.