The end of SDI?25 April 2013
If Quantel was predicting the end of files as a metaphor for storing content, so Axon at NAB was foreshadowing the end of SDI. It was showing its first products based on the IEEE AVB standards: audio video bridging. AVB aims to replace SDI and co-ax as the means of distributing video content in realtime with Ethernet. The problem with conventional IT networking is that it lacks the precise timing that broadcasters demand. The main drive behind AVB is to add that timing precision so professional users can rely on traditional performance from inexpensive, off-the-shelf network fabrics. “We have been researching the potential of AVB for a long time but, frankly, we have been waiting for the IT industry to catch up,” said Peter Schut, CTO of Axon. “Now the speed and reliability is there, and we can begin to deliver on our innovations. “We do not expect broadcasters to throw out their existing infrastructure,” he added, “bit they can begin to reap the benefits of AVB-based infrastructure.” At NAB Axon was demonstrating units from its Synapse range connected via a commodity IP Ethernet switch, certified for AVB. It provided timing accuracy within the SDI jitter specification, and the demonstration system was set up for a uniform 2ms latency to allow for complex switching. The IT industry sells 20 billion Ethernet switches a year, so the scope for advanced R&D and commoditisation is tremendous. 48 port 10Gb Ethernet switches are already widely available at around the $15k mark, and commoditisation of terabit Ethernet switches will be swift, bringing prices even lower and pushing flexibility. Axon promises that by NAB 2014 its complete Synapse range will be AVB-ready. Other vendors are likely to follow suit.