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Take it to the bridge: Harman mounts historic demo

test 26 May 2009

US: Broadcom and Xilinx have also announced some major developments in Ethernet Audio/Video Bridging (AVB) technology, writes David Davies. Staged at Prolight + Sound in April, the Harman event constituted the first working ‘productised’ demonstration of Audio/Video Bridging (AVB).

Harman is one of many major-name contributors to the IEEE AVB 802.1 AVB Task Group, which has been working to develop protocols that allow the creation of robust, high-quality audio/video networks. Cisco, Intel, Pioneer, Samsung and Siemens are among the other members of the collective.

A three-year phase of cross-company work has yielded a new set of standards that provide three major enhancements for 802-based networks: precise timing to support low-jitter media clocks and accurate synchronisation of multiple streams; a simple preservation protocol allowing endpoint devices to reserve the bandwidth in a path to guarantee quality of service for audio/video streams; and queuing and forwarding rules that ensure audio/video streams will pass through the network delay specified by the reservation.

The PL + S demo saw Harman HiQnet products streaming Ethernet AV. A dbx SC 32 digital matrix processor and a Crown CTs amplifier were among the Harman Pro products to be connected with an Ethernet AV switch.

"We will have the first IEEE standard for networking audio/video," says Harman System Development & Integration Group (SDIG) vice-president Rick Kreifeldt (pictured here at the PL + S demo) of the AVB project’s long-term objective. "There are already multiple suppliers who are producing silicon, but because it is in the IEEE it is much easier to use and provides higher performance."

In other news, semi-conductor developer Broadcom Corporation has announced a new custom implementation of the AVB draft standard. The addition of BroadSync HD technology for HD audio/video streaming to the company’s Ethernet products means that they "can support the most demanding connection requirements of consumer and professional AV equipment". Broadcom is working with strategic partners – including Harman International – to bring this technology to market.

Michael Johas Teener, technical director of Broadcom’s Enterprise Networking Group, commented: "The connectivity technologies used today in consumer and professional audio/video electronics can be difficult to use with a plethora of seemingly identical connectors and obscure labels. These technologies also present technical issues such as limited performance, fixed functionality and the inability to connect with computers on the Internet. Broadcom’s BroadSync HD technology solves these problems by combining guaranteed bandwidth, quality of service, and low latency with the flexibility and performance of Ethernet."

Meanwhile, Xilinx Inc has announced an AVB endpoint for the development of broadcast, professional and consumer AV, automotive and home networking systems. Developed in conjunction with Harman International, the Xilinx Ethernet AVB LogiCORE intellectual property (IP) is available for Xilinx Virtex-5 and Spartan-3A FGPA platforms.

Mike Frazier, vice-president, IP Solutions at Xilinx, tells PSN-e: "Using the Xilinx Ethernet AVB Endpoint core, customers can get to market fast with exciting new products that fully exploit the benefits of the emerging, leading-edge Ethernet AVB standards. The Xilinx programmable technology allows designers to customise their interface and engineer a scalable solution."


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