You better get prepped for IP

Fibre optics
Michael Waidson, Tektronix
Post Production
October 2nd 2017 at 9:47AM : By

Tektronix application engineer Michael Waidson admits that SDI is a superb technology, but businesses need to prepare for IP

Dependability, interoperability, and robustness – the three pillars of the professional video and broadcasting world have been enabled by the successful endurance, and evolution, of SDI (serial digital interface) solutions. SDI’s current 35-plus-year run is unlikely to end any time soon. The values that SDI continues to bring guarantee performance, reliability, and the trust that it just works every time.

Unfortunately, the drawback to SDI is its lack of flexibility given the evolution happening in content acquisition, preparation, and delivery. Users want their SDI-system to grow beyond the physical barriers of the SDI-routing infrastructure, and there are now options available with Internet Protocol (IP) that are more in line with how media-production processes work today.

The shift to real-time/live active video IP networks is not without some serious impact to engineering, maintenance and various operations. Therefore, it is important to gain understanding of the IP network systems and protocols to become familiar with the technology that will drive these new ways of thinking technically and operationally.

Expanded capabilities

Today’s long-standing SDI standards are already familiar to many and are the backbone of facilities and broadcast networks globally. The transition to IP may seem challenging at first but offers expanded capabilities, flexibility, operational ease when growing or extending services and a number of other viable opportunities.

Broadcast facilities worldwide are recognising that broadcast systems demand a reliable, dependable, deterministic platform for professional media. In fact, the broadcast facilities of tomorrow are fully expecting to make the shift towards network-based IP infrastructures, knowing the IP world will be better suited for future workflows.

The broadcast facilities of tomorrow are fully expecting to make the shift towards network-based IP infrastructures, knowing the IP world will be better suited for future workflows"


Still, SDI, with its one-way, point-to-point connectivity platform remains a proven and robust technology due to the global standards established over its lifetime. As a result, the guidelines for facilities that are making the shift towards network-based IP infrastructures will expect, at a minimum, the same types of functionality and operational performance that we have today with SDI. Thus, system designers who are planning for the transition to IP must fully recognise that operational perspectives must not change – or at least not mmediately. Once IP is established, implemented by larger groups or organisations, then the future values can begin to take shape.

So, the question remains: How does an organisation prepare for IP?

The real-world challenges of implementing an IP infrastructure into a modern studio are vast. Many information technology (IT) network professionals who are new to the world of professional digital video (ie, SDI video) may be wondering, “What do I need to know to prepare for the coming changes?” And an even greater number of broadcast engineers are asking themselves the same question. The short answer for both is ‘a lot!’

But for the lengthy answer, you will need to examine the fundamentals of what is different about this new ‘IP-world’; and what the engineer, operator, and manager should be prepared for – regardless of their technical discipline.

35-year-old tech

There will continue to be more topics, discussions, work activities, and developments that will become more closely aligned with this transition to IP for the professional media market space. We should be reminded that SDI is at least 35-years of age, and that its maturity extends even into today and tomorrow – as evidenced by 6G-SDI and 12G-SDI standards and products.

Coupled with a huge investment in existing technologies, future technologies, and workflows or processes, it is evident that the move into hybrid-IP environments is just the starting point. Companies who are participating in producing equipment, developing software and applications, who are designing and building today’s infrastructures, and who are thinking about tomorrow’s needs, are the ones who you want to associate with today.

So, get prepared, be prepared, get educated, and don’t be too afraid to think seriously about how your organisation can be ready to go IP.