Everything you need to know about true IP


Joop Jensen TV-Bay Magazine
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In its own way, every trade show - whether IBC, NAB or CABSAT - is full of firsts. New companies, new partnerships and most importantly, new product releases all want to make their presence known. Nearly all of these firsts however are either a) in response to a hot industry topic or trend or b) trying to predict the next industry trend.

The last few trade shows I've walked the floor of have been alive with similar claims and buzz words. One of those buzzwords - or I suppose buzz-acronym might be more appropriate - has been IP. There's now a host of vendors offering robust and interoperable IP-connected products for essentially the whole broadcast media chain.

The migration to IP has been in the works for a number of years and everyone in the industry is fairly aware of the benefits that it will bring. The good news is that there seems to be a consensus regarding IP protocol standards with the likes of the AIMS initiative and the evolution from SMPTE 2022 to VSF TR03/04.

Many of the ‘IP' products on the world's trade show floors are not true open, native-IP solutions. At this year's NAB show I didn't see vendors moving beyond solutions based around an IP connector on an SDI box. Large-scale adoption of these solutions means the architecture of the industry will remain the same with everything simply being connected by IP.

What we need for the industry to experience fundamental change and new benefits is a change in our way of thinking. We need IP and consumer off the shelf (COTS) hardware at the heart of the new media production chain. IP-connected SDI boxes require extra translation steps. They're fixed to a single function, rigid and will become obsolete once true IP infrastructures are implemented.

The real benefit of moving to IP/Ethernet architectures won't be seen until true virtualisation of media and network processing functions has taken place. Essentially we need to turn what has traditionally been done by hardware into processes executed by software.

Hardware-based solutions like servers are obviously designed for an SDI infrastructure and operate well in that environment. If the industry adopts a native IP infrastructure with integrated FPGA (field-programmable gate array) technology, these hardware-based solutions can turn into software-executed processes. As that is undertaken hardware options will begin to become power drainers that generate more heat than the rest of the software process.

While the installation of FPGA technology is initially more complex in its nature than attaching an IP-enabled gateway to existing hardware, when programmed correctly, broadcast infrastructures will quickly become faster, more powerful and easy to manage.

Using native IP in this way will provide the speed and agility that's needed to truly address today's changing media consumption. In the OTT era, where every broadcaster, media producer and increasingly rights holder is/needs to be able to set up their own channel, this kind of architecture will become more and more important.

If you look at the reality of today's live broadcasting, expensive processing equipment is generally only used 25% of the time - so it's quite an inefficient system. Only when using a software-based operation model with FPGA technology is the cost-effective promise of IP evident. You just pay for what you need, when you need it and facilities can be redirected easily.

With a native-IP solution that features real software-based processes, customers don't have to settle with a transitional IP-pimped SDI product and can start benefitting from true IP.

For more information on Aperi's pioneering real-time IP media processing for live production and how it's able to help you convert to a truly IP infrastructure go to apericorp.com.


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Contributing Author Joop Jensen

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