AV over IP – what is it, why and what for?

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This article is entirely devoted to AV over IP technology. This is a modern technology that can hardly surprise anyone. It has a large number of advantages and a wide range of functions.

The main function is to transmit video over IP networks, and without restrictions on the length of the cable. The technology works with common network equipment. So, you can use a good switch that supports multicast, IGMP, QoS and use it for your own purposes. Details of the technology are under the cut.

How it works?

Data is transmitted using encoders – systems that can convert analog signals, video or audio, to digital. Next, digital information is transmitted, and then – a new stage of conversion into the original audio or video signal.

In general, the technology is not particularly new, but it has been improving over time. So, recently it became possible to transfer video in 4K / UHD format. Accordingly, a specialized line of systems appeared that are compatible with this technology and are able to provide high quality video transmission.

In this case, it does not matter how far the data will be transmitted – a few meters, a kilometer or tens of kilometers – the quality is always provided at a high level.

Why did you create this technology?

The answer is simple – in order to seamlessly transmit audio and video signals over a standard network. Here is just a small list of AV ‑ over ‑ IP features:

  • The transfer of video content is simplified due to the absence of additional elements, the construction of the system becomes cheaper, and maintenance is simplified.
  • Integration with existing IT systems means not only the ability to use the same equipment, but also existing systems to monitor and manage the network.
  • There is no need to spend additional money on expensive training for ProAV specialists.
  • The issues of design, modernization, logistics and so on are simplified.

The critical point here is the ability to scale the system in the future. It’s relatively simple and inexpensive, especially when compared to scaling ad-hoc networks based on ProAV, HDBaseT, etc.

You can use encoders and decoders in any number that is required at the moment. You can also expand the system by connecting an additional source or display at any time.

What about technical details?

We briefly talked about the advantages of this network above, but now we can discuss in more detail, revealing other possibilities. In total, AV over IP has three main features.

Content compression capability

In both businesses and homes, gigabit links are most commonly used. These are 1 and 10 Gbps. Unfortunately, the bandwidth of these channels is not enough to transmit content in ultra-high quality, so you have to use compression. It is used in almost all AV-over-IP solutions.

In some cases, there may be a delay because compression, while fast, is not instantaneous. For acceleration, strong compression with little visual artifacts is applied. Most users do not notice these changes. This technique is used for “narrow” channels. But in 10 Gbps channels, you can use almost lossless compression.

The most commonly used codecs are H.264, H.265 (also known as HEVC), JPEG 2000 and AptoVision BlueRiver. They are well suited for 4K video transmission. AptoVision BlueRiver is a newly developed codec that allows you to transmit very high quality video with virtually no loss or delay.

What about HDMI?

The signal transmission system must necessarily be compatible with the equipment used. The most popular and widespread equipment now is HDMI 1.x and 2.0. They differ mainly in bandwidth.

In addition, HDMI has an HDCP protection protocol. All HDCP versions must be supported to not block video.

Plus, HDMI versions should also be supported. In the case of v2, the bandwidth is 18 GB / s. AV over IP has it all, so you can stream video in any quality, including 4K / UHD HDR, without too much trouble.

Building a network

As mentioned above, standard channels – 1 Gb / s or 10 Gb / s are quite enough for AV over IP. Accordingly, the switch can be selected as standard. If the loss of quality and latency of about half a second is not critical, you can choose a 1 Gbps network switch. This method should be chosen if the signal needs to be transmitted over a long distance.

As for 10 Gbps, such a switch can be used to transmit high quality video both over short distances and over long distances. The image will remain as detailed as possible.

The switch used to build the network must support the following functions:

  • Full Layer 2/3, IGMP V. 2 snooping
  • FASTLEAVE for instant 4K switching
  • IGMP Queries, etc.

With regard to the cost of creating such a network, then in small systems it is worth using HDBaseT and HDMI equipment. If you plan to develop a large-scale infrastructure, then AV Over IP will be required, for which no additional cable infrastructure is needed.

As a conclusion, we can say that since the quality of content transmitted over networks is constantly growing, then AV over IP will become more and more popular and in demand.

What Zyxel offers

Together with the leading manufacturer of AV solutions ATEN AV Over IP functionality, two series of switches were included:

The solution has been extensively tested in the ATEN laboratory. The results obtained are available in the related article: Part 1 and Part 2.

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