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Adaptive SoC, making IP audio and video transmission full of more possibilities

Date: 2021/02/04

As we all know, the industry needs to make corresponding preparations to cope with the rapid spread of IP audio and video transmission. But for many practitioners who are still wondering how their next-generation products should support IP audio and video transmission, choosing any specific protocol when the future is uncertain is tantamount to desperate.

Obviously, the audio and video industry is increasingly learning the advantages of IP transmission of audio, video and related data. The unique expansion capability of IP network can support any audio and video format, and can distribute content through LAN/WAN and cloud multi-channel. Network addressable devices can become the basis of "Audio Video as a Service (AVaaS)", and relying on the maturity and scale of the IT industry to achieve extensive media transmission is obviously very attractive. However, there are still a lot of uncertain factors in terms of ease of use, robustness, network management and service quality, network security and content protection, and interoperability between vendors.

As a supplier of various equipment manufacturers in the audio and video industry, customers often come to inquire as to which IP audio and video transmission standard we think will ultimately win. We have seen such uncertain and chaotic times in the broadcasting industry. At that time, there were multiple competing agreements (not necessarily standards), competing for the same application, causing the entire industry to hesitate for a period of time and stagnating development. In the end, the market accepted the correct development direction of truly open, interoperable and extensible standards. At present, SMPTE ST 2110 has become the universally adopted IP audio and video transmission standard in the entire industry. In the professional audio and video industry, we are also seeing similar trends emerging. The professional audio and video industry also has multiple IP audio and video transmission protocols competing for the same application field, including (and not limited to) SDVoE, Dante AV, NDI, and IPMX. There are also a large number of proprietary IP designs used in closed systems. All of these agreements have different advantages and disadvantages, and they are also very technically excellent. So what choice should our customers and partners make?

Pay attention to openness and practical interoperability as the foundation

The difference between the professional audio and video industry and the broadcasting industry is that the former tends to accept and adopt the closed system of the exclusive supplier, "as long as it can be used." However, similar to the broadcasting industry, system integrators and equipment manufacturers are reluctant to be tied to a supplier, even if the supplier's product performance is extremely good. The real core concept of open IP networking is to choose the most suitable product for a specific use case of a certain part of the network and seamlessly integrate with other manufacturers' products on another part of the network. A similar situation exists in the IP audio and video transmission protocol. Take SDVoE as an example. Although SDVoE claims to be interoperable, it requires the use of dedicated Semtech ASIC devices for each IP interface. If the manufacturer monopolizes both ends of the link and acts independently, can this be regarded as true interoperability? This leads to risks associated with the use of the manufacturer’s unique device-if the manufacturer decides to increase the price (because there is no competing product supplier for this type of design), or worse, stop supplying the device to the market due to a decline in the return on investment. What should users do? The active development of a healthy ecology is inseparable from open standards. Such a standard is easy for anyone to follow and can be implemented on any device with similar functions.

Scalability and adaptability are the future trends

The flaw of ASIC design lies in the lack of adaptability. And this kind of ability is exactly what is urgently needed in fields lacking unified standards such as IP audio and video transmission. If the ASIC supports a fixed rate such as 10Gb Ethernet, it cannot be extended or adapted for different use cases. What users need is an economical high-speed link. If it is a brand new deployment, 10G can be used. However, most applications on the market still use 1G, so there is a need for a technology that can provide high-quality, low-latency compression to make full use of the installed network hardware, rather than completely overthrowing and rebuilding. If you want to start all over again, why is it limited to 10G? Why not choose 25G, 50G or even 100G for greater future compatibility? It should be noted that when multiple 10G links handle multiple 4K streams, users are likely to need a higher-speed backbone network. 8K monitors and TVs are already on the market, so if you eventually want to upgrade to 8K and limit the bandwidth to a specific rate, you will probably need multiple sets of equipment, multiple different compression ratios, or simply a new "standard."

IPMX-an open and scalable IP audio and video transmission standard

IPMX is based on the proven SMPTE ST 2110 standard widely adopted by the broadcasting industry, which can solve some high-end requirements of the professional audio and video industry, including HDCP copy protection, network discovery and registration, I/O management, and enhanced audio required by specialized systems Channel mapping, including multi-channel surround sound. IPMX can be extended to support compressed or uncompressed streams at any rate, compatible with various video formats and bit rates.

Anyone can download the entire set of standards (document fees and codec license fees may be required), and then develop any application according to their own needs, perhaps the most important manifestation of the IPMX standards and specifications, and the meaning of open standards. Every manufacturer that produces products according to this standard follows a unified standard. Users are ensuring that all devices can interoperate, and can choose test suites and test equipment from multiple vendors to verify interoperability. IPMX can be implemented on any functional device you choose, avoiding bundling with exclusive manufacturers. Obviously, if implemented on Xilinx Adaptive SoC, we naturally welcome it. If you use Macnica Technology's IPMX solution, it is likely that your product will also use FPGA or SoC. The benefits of open standardization to the industry do not stop there.

ST 2110 has been verified and put into use. And as the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE), Advanced Media Workflow Association (AMWA), Video Service Forum VSF and IP Media Solutions Alliance (AIMS Alliance) add more audio and video special features to IPMX, it can make full use of update the software platform and programmable SoC devices that already exist in your system. If you want to keep the risk to a minimum and be compatible with future IP audio and video transmission designs, IPMX is still a standard worth choosing. In fact, the practice of adapting to changes has gradually become unsuitable for the times. The industry does have use cases that are very suitable for NDI, Dante AV, SDVoE, etc. But once IPMX is fully launched, the market may inevitably fall into its embrace. Regardless of the development trend, the market will make the final decision!

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