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Riedel's MediorNet As A Decentralized Router

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Video routers are the beating heart of any modern production infrastructure, and there are almost as many options for deploying them as there are router manufacturers, says Lars Höhmann, Product Manager, Riedel Communications.

Video routers are the beating heart of any modern production infrastructure, and there are almost as many options for deploying them as there are router manufacturers. The traditional model of a centralized router still gets the job done in many types of modern broadcast and production environments. One important reason is that centralized routers address the requirement to have all signals present at every input and output. A completely non-blocking infrastructure such as this is a tremendous convenience because it assures that, at all times, the broadcaster retains the ability to grab and route every available signal from one place to another. However, as signal bandwidth increases, this approach becomes a very inefficient way to move signals around a facility or OB van.

With its MediorNet real time media transport and processing network, Riedel has introduced the concept of decentralized routing. MediorNet leverages lightweight fiberoptic cables to offer a flexible, robust, scalable, and reliable alternative to large, monolithic centralized routers.

Key to the decentralized routing solution is the MediorNet MicroN, a high-density media distribution network device that can be implemented in several different ways to streamline signal transport and routing in modern production workflows. MicroN, a recent addition to the MediorNet family, leverages fiber to offer a flexible, robust, scalable, and reliable alternative to large, monolithic centralized routers.

When MicroN nodes are interconnected in a meshed fashion, they serve as a highly scalable decentralized video router, offering exceptional flexibility in system design and — with the addition of further MicroN nodes to the network — allowing users to extend router capacity in both signal count and distributed system locations. Working with distributed MicroN units, users enjoy convenient node placement, integrated redundancies, and a lack of any single point of failure.

In order to better understand the concept of decentralized routing, think of a traditional router. It is comprised of a high-speed backplane and cards with coaxial cable ports to take in and send out video signals. Each coax port extends to individual control panels, sources, and destinations. With MicroN, the high-speed electrical backplane is replaced by a fiber-optic backbone that connects the various areas of a production facility, and the MicroN units themselves act as the I/O cards. (Figure 1) The big difference is that, now, those card and their ports can be co-located with the equipment that they are providing I/O for. Decentralized routing works best when facilities have islands of IOs, as in the case of a central control room and edit suites scattered around a campus, or even in a remote production truck in which such islands are the production, audio, video, and record/playback areas. In these instances, each MicroN node serves as its own router with its own redundant power supply, and each can be situated exactly where it is needed. Figure 2 shows what such a configuration might look like. Built-in intelligence ensures that different routes through the fiber-based network are employed in the rare case of a node failure.

A single MicroN operating in stand-alone mode can act as a 12x12 router and audio embedder/de-embedder with MADI SRC and delay, with an integrated test pattern generator, on-screen and system VITC display, sample-rate converter, audio/video delay lines, and video frame sync/frame store and delay. All of this integrated signal processing not only simplifies signal paths and workflows, but also eliminates the need for many external dedicated processing boxes. In reducing the component count, the device enables further weight reductions, valuable power and cooling savings, and easier and faster troubleshooting.

In a point-to-point deployment, paired MicroN units can provide all of these capabilities, plus support for 12 bi-directional SD/HD/3G-SDIs, two MADI optical digital audio ports, a Gigabit Ethernet port, two sync reference I/Os, and eight 10G MediorNet Links (4.25 capable) for connection to other MedioNet devices or nodes. Because MicroN is designed to support 4K and IP workflows, users have the flexibility to build future-proof media infrastructures supporting everything from basic signal transport to full video router functionality including signal processing.

It is important to note that MicroN is but one of the MediorNet components that can be used in a comprehensive routing solution. By using MediorNet Compact frames as strategically located stageboxes, each signal from those locations can managed, routed, and processed within the network and without any additional equipment.

Prominent broadcasters like AMP VISUAL TV in France and DB Video in Belgium have taken advantage of this decentralized signal-routing concept to realize greater freedom and flexibility in the design of new and innovative OB vans. The decentralized routing scheme increases the flexibility of the van's internal layout so that every position can serve any task. Plus, these broadcasters are able to achieve this versatility without losing any of the functionality that a centralized router provides.

For these and a growing number of users across the broadcast and production realm, Riedel's MicroN device frees users from the costs and constraints of conventional routing models, supplying integrated routing and processing capabilities that can be tailored economically to any production.

This article is also available to read at BFV online here, page 26.

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