Has the AVB dream lost its lustre?2 September 2014
No one actively described AVB (Audio/Video Bridging) as the panacea to the networking problem at the time the AVnu Alliance – the organisation established to promote the technology – made its debut in 2009, but there is no denying that it has often appeared to have attained that status during the past five years. Backed by companies active throughout the manufacturing chain from silicon to speaker, the AVB project of achieving low latency, fully interoperable streaming through IEEE 802 networks appeared – initially at least – to be essentially unstoppable.
But somehow, somewhere along the way the industry perception of the AVB/AVnu project has undergone a significant revision. The bridge and endpoint certification scheme created by AVnu to guarantee interoperability between devices has yielded only a few certified primary products and derivatives to date; the video product part of the programme is still under development and won’t be ready for some time yet. Despite the best efforts of AVnu chairman and president Rick Kreifeldt, the organisation’s public profile appears lower than it was a few years ago when then-marketing work group chair Lee Minich was such an evangelical advocate for the project… and all the while, other approaches are continuing to experience impressive rates of adoption.
In its defence, AVB has undoubtedly already achieved significant traction in the automotive market, with manufacturers including BMW and General Motors signing up to the Alliance. The purpose of this article, then, is to extrapolate five (easy) pieces from the puzzle to ascertain whether AVB still has a credible future in pro-AV – a market that, maintains Kreifeldt, is still “crucial” to its roadmap – or whether it now runs the risk of being overshadowed by other approaches.
This is one area, at least, in which the AVnu Alliance case looks watertight. From a five-strong founding membership of Broadcom, Cisco, Harman, Intel and Xilinx, the Association has steadily added members to achieve a total of 55 as of May 2013. The fact that this has risen to 80 in the last 16 months confirms that this writer’s perception of a slowdown in membership was rather off the mark.
“In fact, we are on an upturn as far as membership goes right now,” confirms Kreifeldt (pictured right), who is also vice-president of research and innovation at Harman International. Perhaps the misperception is due to AVnu simply waiting awhile to group multiple additions into one big announcement, for Kreifeldt confirms no fewer than eight additions in recent months, namely: Coveloz, a technology provider of embedded and fully programmable media transport solutions; Imagination Technologies, a leader in multimedia, processor, communication and cloud technologies; IntoPIX, who provide compression, cryptographic and video transport FPGA IP-cores, reference design and software tools; networking specialist Ixia; wireless microphone and wireless PA systems maker MIPRO; secure connection solutions provider NXP Semiconductors; personal audio mixer and networked audio solution developer Pivitec; and HD video, audio, conference and VoIP applications and products maker Xavtel.
Collectively, says Kreifeldt, these announcements demonstrate coverage of “all parts of the ecosystem – from people like Imagination Technologies building licensable silicon to connective silicon expert NXP Semiconductors, through to MIPRO and Xavtel making professional equipment for different markets.”