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Thursday 26 April 2018

The Solent Student Chapter met tonight for their final formal talk of the academic year. Gerard Phillips came to discuss ST2110 – a suite of SMPTE standards to support real-time media over IP networks.

The core parts of ST2110 have only recently been approved by SMPTE but the potential impact is highly significant and there is understandably a huge amount of interest within the industry. The suite allows for time-aligned streams to pass over IP networks in a deterministic manor with high resilience and low-latency. In contrast to other video streaming protocols, it allows for distinct streams of essence, which is very flexible and efficient for production workflows.

Gerard has experience from both the broadcast and network industries having worked for Snell Advanced Media and now Arista. He noted how both sectors have deep and specialised knowledge bases and discussed the need for translation between engineers to help them converge effectively.

The talk was extremely interesting with a focus on designing networks for ST2110. Gerard discussed considerations around the physical topology, as well as routing concepts such as load-balancing and resource allocation. He made some great points around when to use traditional ICMP multicast or Software Defined Network controllers to manage the streams.

Left: Chapter Chair Alex starts proceedings  Right: Gerard introduces an IP workflow

Understandably some of those present were sceptical of the capability of IP switches. We learned about some of the architectural features to look out for and Gerard presented some very convincing numbers that are currently available on high-grade equipment. Many of the requirements of the broadcast sector have actually been tried and tested within the high frequency trading business and we are able to benefit from innovations that have been developed by large cloud service providers.

There are challenges going forward such as the need for intuitive measurement tools to help predict and diagnose faults within the network. However there are also lots of advances being made to increase the capacity of network devices and unify the protocols used to manage them.

Its early days for ST2110 but it was great to get better understanding of how it is being used in the real world already. Many thanks to Gerard for sharing his experience with us.

The talk was organised by third year Broadcast Systems Engineering student Alex Snell who has been the Chair of the Student Chapter. As the academic year draws to a close, the Media Technology Programme would like to thank Alex, as well as Secretary Marco Campagnuolo, for their hard work developing the chapter over the last year.