SDVoE (Software Defined Video over Ethernet)

SDVoE (Software Defined Video over Ethernet) is gaining recognition as the global standard for the distribution of (perceived zero latency) uncompressed video over enterprise networks. At IVC we recognised the significance of this futuristic new technology on day one and were one of the first AV integrators to win an international award for the design and installation on a large scale, AV over IP integrated ethernet.

Over the past decade, virtually every piece of office audio visual equipment that required dedicated cabling has moved onto the IT network, made possible by the arrival of digitisation. Audio and Video distribution is the last of the communications technologies to move onto the integrated enterprise networks, drastically simplifying installation and reducing costs.

AV-over-IP (Internet Protocol) and SDVoE describes the distribution of audio, video and control signals over the LAN (local area network) and WAN (wide area network) using IP switching and configuration protocols. With the arrival and rapid advancement of AV-over IP technology, traditional AV/IT infrastructures are now being replaced with IP-based ethernets.

Currently, there are two types of networking methods, circuit switching and packet switching. In the past, AV primarily used circuit switching for networks whilst IT has traditionally used packet switching for data networks. In a circuit switched network, dedicated point-to-point connections are made to distribute streams of data. In a packet switched network, data is sliced into small packets and delivered to various destinations that requests the data. The advent of digitisation and the Ethernet, integrated packet switched networks allows for infinite numbers of services and users to share the same network infrastructure.

By creating a platform on which software defines the application, it provides the flexibility to adapt AV systems to evolving business needs. Just as you would install new software to give your PC new capabilities, SDVoE AV systems can be updated and adjusted by installing updated control software, or via the control IPA (applications programming Interface), that is standard across all equipment vendors.

Because everything from the API down is standardised and carefully controlled, SDVoE devices exhibit the style of interoperability familiar to the IT world. That is that any SDVoE product from one manufacturer is guaranteed to work with any SDVoE product from another manufacturer.

Traditional AV switchers have typically offered uncompressed video switching and rarely relied on coding to compress and transmit the AV and control signals. AV technology has become more IT capable. It can now encode/decode AV and control signals so they can be transmitted over a packet switched network. To distribute AV signals over a packet switched network, the signals must pass through a dedicated encoder that converts the signals to an IP compatible packet format. To receive the same signals on a display or speaker system, a decoder must also be used to convert the packets into compatible AV signals.

Given that almost every other technology has already converged onto the network, why did it take so long for AV? The answer is that the use cases for AV demand much higher video quality and near zero latency than IPTV and video collaboration. So, the technology had to progress much further to achieve the performance required by the professional AV industry. Which it now has.

Using AV-over-IP provides opportunities for numerous applications, including IPTV (Internet Protocol Television), digital signage and streaming. The advantage of multi-purposing an AV-over-IP system is that its performance is far beyond what is required for those use cases. So, while a digital signage or IPTV system cannot perform the actions of an AV-over-IP system, the reverse is possible. This convergence will allow the number of technologies and endpoints on a network to further consolidate, saving costs.

Furthermore, rather than this being a new technology for AV/IT managers to learn, Ethernet has been the go-to IP protocol for some years and is familiar to all those involved in the design and management of network LAN and WAN systems.

SDVoE delivers capabilities far beyond that of a traditional matrix switch. Many SDVoE devices include a powerful AV processing unit which enables functions such as:

  • Scaling
  • Instant or fast switching
  • Video wall image cropping
  • Multiview/compositing
  • Independent routing of audio and video
  • Audio downmixing
  • USB and KVM transport
  • Infinite numbers of matrix i/o ports, limited only by the switch size and the networks bandwidth capabilities

Example of SDVoE ‘One to many’, ‘Videowall’ and ‘Multiview’ capabilities without the need for any further third party, outboard processing equipment.

Provided by Netgear

An SDVoE system can be configured and reconfigured, entirely via software, to suit a system owner’s ever evolving needs. SDVoE can offer significant cost savings up front (compare the cost of an SDVoE receiver to that of a purpose-built video window processor, or an outboard multi viewer processor). But more significant are the cost savings over time, of a system that doesn’t need to be replaced every time a users’ needs change. SDVoE can meet your end user’s needs today, tomorrow and for the foreseeable future.