March 26, 2024

Move ST-2110 and JPEG-XS Into and Through the Cloud with cloudSwXtch

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The broadcast industry’s long road to an IP transition took a major leap forward in 2017. This was the year that the SMPTE ST 2110 suite of standards was ratified, paving the way toward a common IP-based mechanism and accelerating the shift to more IT-based software-defined workflows and applications.

SMPTE ST 2110 is a multipart standards suite that addresses four core components of IP networking, emphasizing the carriage, synchronization and description of essence streams over IP. Collectively, each of the standard’s four parts are designed to advance the possibilities of IP production and playout, among other professional media applications.

Two SMPTE ST 2110 components focus on the world of uncompressed video: ST 2110-10/20/30 addresses specific system concerns for the management of uncompressed streams (including video stream latency), while SMPTE ST 2110-21 specifies traffic shaping and delivery timing. These were important elements to establish for many reasons, though on the surface they provided a bridge from the Serial Digital Interface (SDI) legacy world.

From Baseband to IP

SDI and its sibling, HD-SDI, are the de facto legacy video standards for the live production community. Often referred to as baseband, SDI leverages uncompressed video to ensure the highest quality visual presentation for the broadcast environment. The SMPTE ST 2110 suite of standards built in these components, with input from the Video Services Forum, to adapt baseband uncompressed video flows to IP. In addition to maintaining broadcast-quality pictures, these components also offered broadcasters a path toward the use of standardized IT servers in their media workflows. The adoption of IT servers comes at a much lower cost than SDI/HD-SDI hardware, and solves the problem of scalability limitations associated with baseband systems. Additionally, IP networks are highly scalable by nature, whereas SDI products have clear I/O limitations. The math is simple, scaling with SDI = requiring some very deep pockets.

The acceleration of cloud adoption accentuated the challenges of freely moving uncompressed video over modern networks. Uncompressed UHD streams require 13Gb of bandwidth, and those costs quickly add up when moving through the cloud. Such costs became a barrier to entry for many broadcasters, and moving lossy compressed video through the cloud was generally not a viable option.

Keep IT Quality

The JPEG-XS compression algorithm was developed in part to strike a balance between the cost concerns of uncompressed video and the lossy attributes of compression techniques. JPEG-XS compression produces visually lossless quality, meaning that there is no discernable loss. It achieves that high quality at an impressive bandwidth ratio that can range between 10 and 20:1, substantially reducing stream size, and it does so with very low-latency. Essentially, broadcasters with a 25Gb pipe can now move 20 channels (JPEG-XS compressed versus two channels (uncompressed)) into the cloud, with no discernable delays or loss in quality. These benefits alone make it an attractive proposition for moving more production workflows into the cloud.

Another intriguing benefit exists on the structural side. SDI/HD-SDI connections are essentially signal waves, which require an abundance of electricity to power. This means a high density of routers and core system crosspoints to support carriage, but even with that sizeable infrastructure these signal waves are prone to fading during their journeys. Amplification is a reliable problem-solver, but this translates to adding an amplifier point every 1200 feet – the distance limitations of the SDI signal wave. Those distances grow shorter when passing UHD signals, made even more challenging if passing HDR colors – both of which JPEG-XS can carry in its streams.

We Deal in Packets

IP networks employ packetization for transport, which eliminates the amplification element. The ability to send duplicate packets and add forward error connection helps its cause over long distances, reaching up to 40 kilometers. There is also the sustainability benefit of a robust reduction in power consumption, and a simplification of how audio streams move over IP networks and into the cloud. Whereas SDI required separation of the streams (and audio embedders and de-embedders to manage separation and transport), video, audio and data streams are synchronized over IP networks using PTP (Precision Timing Protocol). cloudSwXtch also supports multicast, which can accommodate live switching required for live media production.

The core benefits of JPEG-XS compression and PTP timing translate exceptionally well to the cloud, but in the cloudSwXtch universe the algorithm’s low-latency properties shine especially bright. cloudSwXtch is a highly scalable platform that our customers can architect for global reach, and one enormous benefit of low latency in the cloud is the ability to make widely dispersed geographical locations seem precisely the opposite. It is also worthy to note swXtch.io has built Timebeat PTP functionality into cloudSwXtch, bringing even greater alignment to operating in the cloud.

cloudSwXtch: Your JPEG-XS Vehicle in the Cloud

swXtch.io’s cloudSwXtch virtual overlay network continues to solve business and technical problems that often delay adoption strategies. On the technology side, cloudSwXtch’s dynamic bridging application helps customers seamlessly extend on-prem systems to the cloud at a reasonable cost, helping broadcasters and media companies leverage the elasticity and flexibility of cloud networking.

The support of JPEG-XS compression flows within cloudSwXtch, new for NAB, allows customers to now move visually lossless quality content at very low latency into and through the cloud. This addresses the challenge of managing the heavy bandwidth and expense associated with uncompressed signals in the cloud, while its low-latency performance video streams flow in a timely manner – a mission-critical function of broadcast and live broadcast-related productions. And the ability to provide true lossless visual quality at a fraction of the cost is a potential game changer for big-ticket live events, including major sports productions around the world. This opens the doors for our customers to manage their entire live production workflows in the cloud.

The technology foundation of cloudSwXtch enables customers to demand more of their cloud networks, allowing users the freedom to turn features like JPEG-XS, PTP, multicast and much more on and off, and quickly relocate to new data centers at low cost. Broadcasters can bring these missing cloud features in alignment with on-prem infrastructure and create one broadcast network. And with availability on all major public clouds along with its intrinsic multi-cloud networking abilities, cloudSwXtch is a platform that users can grow with well into the future and without compromise.

Come join the cloudSwXtch movement at NAB Show 2024 (April 14-17, Las Vegas Convention Center), where swXtch.io exhibits at Booth W4429.

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