SMPTE 2011/202 #IBC2018


Impact of SMPTE 2110/2022 on Infrastructure

I suspect that there were a comparable number of SMPTE logos to pints of larger at IBC this year. SMPTE 2110 is a standard that has been touted as a sea change for the industry taking uncompressed video transport away from proprietary video hardware onto consumer IT equipment harnessing the conveniance of multicast, so you can chuck out all your flaky DA frames.

As in every transition, broadcasters cannot simply replace the whole SDI equipment pool with new IP native products, the expected life span of SDI kit out in the field is going to run into several more years so the first thing people are going to want to do is to bridge the SDI world into an IT infrastructure.

For this transition, functions such as encapsulation and de-encapsulation are needed to support SDI equipment that is already installed or not yet available in IP format. Multiple encapsulators and de-encapsulators create a new higher function level called Aggregator, in other words: a bulk aggregation of SDI signals in the IP domain.


As an engineer used to the point to point nature of SDI my initial response to this is to employ good quality ‘mini converters’ or dedicated IP centric PCIe cards to jack into the IP world from my SDI equipment and NLE workstations. it’s the way we’ve been moving SDI into HDMI for years and represents a low-cost approach when looking at low density implementations.

AJA had an impressive range of converters on the stand at IBC this year. AJA IP Mini-Converters are designed for the transport, reception and decoding of IP video. Models are available for either SMPTE ST 2110 uncompressed video and audio over IP with 10 GigE connectivity, or JPEG 2000 TR-01 video and audio over 1 GigE. Units are shipping now and feature easily understood graphical interfaces.

The KONA IP offers users a powerful 8-lane PCIe 2.0 video and audio desktop I/O card with flexible IP connectivity to load directly into your NLE workstations. This card has been the focus of development in the IP range with the technology filtering down through the mini converter range. Two SFP+ cages provide multi-stream 3G-SDI 2K/HD support for easy routing of video over 10 GigE IP networks. KONA IP has out of the box support for SMPTE ST 2110 or SMPTE 2022-6/7 for transmission and distribution of uncompressed 3G/1.5G-SDI.

Mellanox with Embrionix emSFP

Mini converters are only easy to administer in low density operations. If we start to look beyond a handful of suites we need to investigate more elegant solutions to the SDI-IP aggregation problem.

Embrionix proposes a unique way to do this aggregation by simply bringing the SDI signals directly into a COTS Top Of Rack switch where the SFP itself is the gateway.

This solution becomes very interesting when we consider what we can achieve in conjunction with an enterprise grade switch. Mellanox have been an increasing presence in the M&E world with incredible performance and serious value for money. They started out as chip manufacturers and as a result have control of every aspect of their product from the silicon up to their OS. For me the most interesting thing they’ve done is allow containerizing IP-studio services to run on the switch.

This allows broadcast engineers to focus on building ideal IP media fabric for their studio without utilizing additional servers and virtual machines. For example, Mellanox can run docker container on the switch, this means that you can employ the direct access to the switch’s silicon available to the Mellanox switch OS to run applications to leverage devices such as the Embrionix emSFP in software running on the switch itself. An obvious implementation being an SMPTE 2110 router running natively in your network fabric.

In addition to this Mellanox have a way to implement IEEE 1588 Precision Time Protocol (PTP) and SMTPE2059 in hardware on the Mellanox ConnectX-4 adapters thereby eliminating the highly unpredictable jitter seen in software-based timestamping. They also implement packet pacing which manages rate limiting the flows out from all the senders on the server. With a switch as fast as a Mellanox line rate unit and the bursty nature of video delivery being a serious challenge this is a really neat implementation.

This is all very exiting when sitting on an enterprise throughput in a local spine/leaf network but what happens if we want to go further?

Remote Working in the WAN

So we’ve either bought a mini converter, loaded our Media Composer with a Kona IP or gone full on geek and built a full on spine/leaf network with a software layer managing our SDI to IP aggregation. What now? When you put a video signal into an IP stack you want it to be as flexible as any other ethernet stream. How do you get your Pictures and Sound & Metadata from one site to another with such high bandwidth data flowing around?

Well the answer is that it’s going to be expensive if you want to work uncompressed!

  • You can “own” Dark fibre Or Microwave links but this is expensive, you often pay by bitrate times distance.
  • You can lease a circuit from a Telco and perhaps less bitrate – but you do get distance independent pricing.

But the cheapest and future proof circuits are IP. IP circuits at say 10G can be supplied (more or less) anywhere in UK Urban areas. But if you want to run a real edit over this you will inevitably need to compress your video data into a transport stream.

Which brings us back to AJA Kona IP. If you load the KONA IP with one 10Gb SFP+ and one 1Gb SFP+ you turn it into a 2110 uncompressed output card with a JPEG 2000 encoder for HD video via encode and decode to/from an MPEG 2 Transport stream which will play much better with 1GB WAN connections. So from the same workstation you can simultaneously send local uncompressed 4:4:4 to your online or grade and a compressed stream out into the internet for remote viewing or editing from the same card. Latency in this workflow is not ideal and a hurdle we need to overcome but the architecture is very exciting, if you’re into that kind of thing.

We’re going to be doing a lot of POC work at Tyrell over the next few months and if it’s something you’re looking into we’d love to have you along for the ride. Call us to take the discussion further.