The maturity and affordability of 10 Gigabit per second Ethernet has enabled the broadcast industry to move towards an IP technology platform. The volume of conversation about IP and 10 GigE will reach a new high this year at NAB 2017.
10 GigE technology provides enough data bandwidth and low enough latency so that even live production workflows can be carried out using an IP network, as opposed to traditional SDI transport. SMPTE is also working towards standardization of IP technology, exploiting RTP protocol in particular, to provide specifications for interoperability among manufacturers. NAB 2017 will provide widespread exposure of demonstrated interoperability based on these emerging standards for video, audio, timing and metadata signals or essences. In this manner, the traditional SDI infrastructure can transition to all IP.
The move towards essence is really a return to our roots. At one point in history, a production studio used a special network for each media type: analog audio, analog video, analog timecode and analog sync. This model was replicated in the transition to digital. Currently, SDI signals with embedded audio, timecode and metadata minimize cable count. But managing this strict, time division multiplex is cumbersome. The rate with which video formats, resolution and framerate are changing makes it nearly impossible to manage the future with a fixed bandwidth infrastructure.
By using IP, each physical network connection carries many signals based upon their individual bandwidths. For example, a 10 GigE network segment may carry three 1080p signals or six HD-SDI signals. The same network connection may also carry audio. But with IP, audio and video signals can now be uniquely identified using their IP addresses.
We Have Come Full Circle with IP!
There is certainly the need to support 12 G-SDI for 4K UHD. One choice is to use coax. Another might be to deploy 10 or 40 GigE network equipment and interfaces, with or without mezzanine compression. A third option is to deploy 25 or 100 GigE equipment. The decision is based on a number of variables, which can be discussed in a future post (and among your colleagues), but for today, the key point is to recognize that 10 GigE is mature, and 25 GigE is being deployed now, providing the potential to use 10, 25, 40 and 100 GigE bandwidth to optimize your facility design based on today's video formats, while anticipating tomorrow's.