Future-Proof Change with Image Matters
By Jean-François Nivart, CEO of Image Matters
Interoperability is fundamental to the efficient and reliable operation of today’s broadcasters. Different vendors have their own views on connectivity and we’ve seen an explosion of standards and harmonization over the past few years, all trying to simplify the industry, but in doing so complicating interfacing far more than ever.
Improvements in codec efficiency has led to more confusion as a combination of open source and proprietary formats fight for dominance. The intention being to make each codec the most future-proof and efficient format available. With the result of being a massive array of algorithms needing more complex types of CPU, GPU and FPGA power.
And then we introduced IP, an asynchronous packetized transport stream designed to move non-real time data. Layering synchronous video and audio streams onto IP, whilst leveraging the benefits of mass-market industry off-the-shelf equipment, has caused a great deal of anxiety for system integrators and broadcasters alike.
Many broadcasters don’t know which route to take, they want to future-proof their stations for the next ten years, but many of these standards are still developing. Engineers are finding work-arounds to new problems every day and influencing standards further.
And where does SDI fit in all of this? Once seen as the backbone of all broadcast stations, SDI is being pushed into the history books. However, there’s a massive amount of legacy equipment even for new installations that must be integrated into production workflows.
Broadcasting infrastructure is like the Wild West, and we’re stuck in a vicious loop; broadcasters are waiting for manufacturers to provide coherent interoperable products, and manufacturers are waiting for broadcasters to lead and provide direction.
To facilitate this change and be flexible enough to meet the ever-changing demands of broadcasting, OEM’s must be adaptable and be ready for change.
Image Matters takes an enlightened progressive approach to interoperability. Instead of trying to second guess market trends and directions, and predict the next big change, they have assumed there will always be change, and designed their ORIGAMI hardware to future-proof change.
At the core of ORIGAMI is a high-speed (up to 26 Gbps), high-density, multi-pin interposer, providing a standardized interface to link the application and processing layers of a design. Each layer is independently developed as standards emerge, enabling OEM’s to be adaptable and ready for change.
On one side of the interface sits the application layer, the ORIGAMI Carrier, to provide any kind of connections: SDI (HD, 3G, 6G, 12G), Ethernet (1G, 10G, 100G), HDMI, USB and more. On the other side sits the processing layer, the ORIGAMI Module, that will process the high-speed data streams to deliver SD, HD, 4K, UHD and 8K solutions. This module can accommodate any CPU or FPGA, and is built by the OEM or a third-party supplier.
If a new codec gains popularity, users of ORIGAMI can quickly and efficiently either switch between codecs available for the ORIGAMI Module or write code to reliably deliver solutions. And if the codec is so resource intensive it needs a bigger FPGA or CPU, off the shelf new modules will be available, or the OEM can develop their own. Everything sharing the same interface.
In adopting this model, Image Matters have split the interoperability problem into two solutions; application and processing layers. Application layers define the hardware such as input and outputs, power supplies and form factors, making systems dynamic, adaptive and specific to the core application, allowing OEM’s to deliver cost effective changes and customization. Processing layers consisting of processing power, memory and security keep designs stable and highly performant.
As ORIGAMI is adopted by more and more vendors, third party suppliers are building hardware to meet the ever-changing needs of the market. Solution providers who do not have the technical resource or inclination to build high speed hardware designs can take advantage of the third-party modules. Hence focus on writing software and firmware for CPU’s and FPGA’s, delivering their own unique solutions.
Fundamentally, ORIGAMI has split the solution from the underlying high-speed hardware, making it possible for many new solution providers to enter the market and fix the problems we do not yet know we have. Focusing on understanding only one interoperable interface standard empowers OEM’s to spend their time on delivering creative solutions rather than getting bogged down in hardware design.
In a similar way to how ISA interfaces in PC’s opened the market for OEM manufacturers to supply new PC solutions, Image Matters are trail blazing and empowering OEM’s and broadcast solutions providers to write their own FPGA firmware and CPU software, assured that there will always be a new compatible hardware upgrade path available in the future.
By providing a standardized interface and high-speed modules, Image Matters have slashed time to market and maintained very competitive costs for OEM manufacturers, assured that as broadcaster requirements change they can react quickly and efficiently to provide their new solutions.
To survive in today’s markets OEM’s need to be adaptable and Image Matters ORIGAMI Ecosystem gives them the flexibility and tools to do this.
Image Matters is future-proofing broadcasters by future-proofing change.