Integrating IP and SDI - The Lip Sync Challenge
The coming together of IT and broadcast brings with it a blurred and chaotic interface. Moving between the two technologies seems trivial and straightforward but, as we dig deeper into the differences, we see the role of dedicated hardware is more important than ever.
To understand the challenges of IP and SDI integration is to understand how to interface an asynchronous IP network to a synchronous SDI system. Bringing the two together is fraught with questions, most of which are yet to discover.
Timing is one of the most important aspects of television, even more so as we move to 4K and 8K, constraints tighten and data capacity rises exponentially. Live television demands small delays, two or more frames causes visible lip sync errors. As we move into IP studio distribution, many vendors tell us their software solutions can process high resolution video, but they forget to mention the lag and delay.
Dedicated hardware solutions have been used extensively in the past to equip broadcast infrastructure and media processing.
Although today’s software can achieve most of the required broadcast workflow processes, it becomes unreliable when processing real-time high resolution video, especially at ultra-high resolutions, high frame rates or high dynamic ranges. Every software works by executing one instruction after another in the servers’ processor. Sometimes servers have multiple processor cores, and if the software has been well written then multiple instructions can be executed simultaneously. However, resource bottlenecks soon occur as the data hungry video moves between processor, memory, disk drive and GPU.
In the hardware side, thanks to the to the parallelism of FPGA (Field Programable Gate Array) designs, millions of instructions are being processed in a single clock cycle, making the FPGA thousands of times faster and more energy efficient than a server. Consisting of a single silicon core, and highly tuned memory, an FPGA transfers data at breathtaking speeds with lower power consumption and guarantees the timing.
In the past, innovators and system integrators have been forced to stay away from designing their own real-time FPGA solutions. The cost of high speed circuit design was prohibitive due to the specialist knowledge and tools required.
Today, broadcast engineers have become accustomed to fast, efficient, software deployments. They now expect the same flexibility in all areas of the workflow chain which means identifying problems, finding solutions and writing code with incredible accuracy and speed.
This flexibility is now coming back to FPGA solutions! Image Matters ORIGAMI™ B20 Module is an off-the-shelf high-speed FPGA hardware core, tuned to accommodate broadcast workflows needing high resolution video, small size and low power consumption.
B20 Module is the size of a credit card and the first of the ORIGAMI™ modules range, delivering 8K-120p video processing with sub-frame latency. This modular solution allows today’s innovators to easily integrate high processing power FPGA solutions inside their applications.
Vendors build their own interface circuit boards or buy off-the-shelf cards to host the B20 Module. And deliver real-time solutions with the agility and flexibility of software deployments thanks to the emergence of new high levels synthesis (HLS) applications.
Interface hosts can easily accommodate fiber and CAT6 connectors, as well SDI and HDMI video, making the B20 Module an ideal candidate to reliably interface IP and SDI. Transcoding, measurement and format conversion are just a few of the real-time high resolution video processes available, and third party IP-Core vendors deliver a plethora of additional solutions.
The market to deliver bespoke hardware is now open to system integrators and innovators. Using the B20 Module and a host card, they write their own FPGA code in C/C++ or VHDL/Verilog and use one of the many plug-and-play IP-Cores available. This hardware delivers real-time video processing, giving greater flexibility and choice during installation and workflow integration, solutions that have only traditionally been available to high-end manufacturers.
As broadcast and IT move ever closer together, we are going to enter a new dimension we still have to explore. ORIGAMI™ B20 Module will allow us to deliver on these challenges to always keep the lip sync.