The broadcast video market is in a transition period between the use of proprietary broadcast-specific networks and Ethernet. The proprietary broadcast video network protocols came into existence because, at the time, Ethernet speeds and standards were not up to the demands of live video production. Now they are. Ethernet-based broadcast networks promise to reduce video production costs by allowing the use of standard Ethernet cabling and switches to ship video from multiple cameras at an event to the production and editing suite. But there’s plenty of equipment already in the field that uses the older broadcast video network standards. Two new products developed by Xilinx Premier Alliance Member CoreEL in conjunction with BBC R&D can adapt existing broadcast equipment to Ethernet networks specifically for venues such as small- and medium-scale sporting events and multi-location live events (like elections).
The first step is to adapt existing HD video cameras to Ethernet. That’s the job of CoreEL’s Stagebox, a small back-of-camera device that accepts HD-SDI video from the camera and converts the digital video stream to Ethernet (fiber or copper) using real-time AVCi 100 video encoding (H.264 compression is optional) with forward error correction supplied by a SMPTE-2022-5 FEC. The Stagebox also carries four channels of SDI embedded audio and two channels of analog audio, handles genlock and timecode, has a talkback channel for the camera operator, and several additional interfaces.
CoreEL Stagebox back-of-camera device
In the production and editing suite, CoreEL’s PCIe Typhoon Ingest Card accepts video streams from as many as four Stagebox devices and reproduces the original HD-SDI streams. These video streams can then be fed to legacy SDI equipment and switches. The video streams are also available to the host production/editing computer via the card’s PCIe interface. Note that a computer or server cannot perform the real-time decoding of four channels of 10-bit HD-SDI video for monitoring. The Stagebox Typhoon Ingest Card offloads the decoding to hardware.
CoreEL’s Typhoon Ingest Card
The resulting IP-based broadcast video network looks something like this:
Because CoreEL is a Xilinx Premier Alliance Member, you might suspect that some FPGAs are involved in the design of the Stagebox and the Typhoon Ingest Card. That’s correct. The Stagebox relies on a Xilinx Virtex-6 XC6VLX365T FPGA. The Typhoon Ingest Card is based on two Xilinx Kintex-7 XC7K325T FPGAs. The FPGAs implement all of the high-speed SDI and Ethernet interfaces, the video and audio encoding and decoding, the video compression and decompression, and the other myriad details required to implement these broadcast video products. CoreEL is a systems design house, FPGA IP core developer, and design services company located in Bangalore.