New Challenges in Audio/Video Network Design

 Apr 6, 2021   |    Max Kryvenko

As the world moves toward unified IP networks, selecting hardware that meets the strict requirements of the unified IP networks and network design become more important. Why? Different traffic types often have opposite requirements. For example, data traffic can typically tolerate some delay as long as the data itself conceded no errors during transmission. On the other hand, live traffic (voice calls, videoconferences) is exactly the opposite, as errors and packet losses will result in a subsecond glitch that is hardly distinguishable, but latency and jitter will prevent a user from conducting a conversation.

Moreover, IP networks have matured enough in recent years in both reliability and throughput to handle one of the most demanding applications: high and ultra-high definition audio/video (AV) systems, which bring another layer of complexity to the equation with their requirements:

  • The latency should be minimal, and the jitter must be next to nothing. Otherwise, your video wall screens will be out of sync, or the video will not match the audio.
  • The error rate must be restricted as well, especially for pixel-perfect applications, like video editing, that require every pixel to be transmitted from the source to the screen.
  • The network should meet or exceed the throughput performance needed to route non-stopping incoming AV traffic; for some applications, that can be up to 10 Gbps or more per stream .

Spine-and-leaf-topology
The Spine-and-Leaf topology

Latency, error rate, and throughput performance requirements create a new paradigm for designing IP networks where no oversubscription is possible, as each video source uses its entire access bandwidth 24x7x365. One of the most popular network designs that meets the strict demands of high-quality AV is the cost-effective Spine-and-Leaf topology that eliminates single points of failure. Here is some key information on Spine-and-Leaf topology:

  • The network switches must be non-blocking with line-rate performance and enough uplink capacity to provide and fetch video streams in/from the network.
  • The network design calls for a powerful 10G/100G/400G aggregation layer (spine) with enough interlink capacity to withstand line-rate asymmetric loads.
  • The AV distribution solutions use Multicast for transportation that allows the implementation of a one-to-many propagation model. This must be taken into careful consideration during the designing process, as many network engineers rarely deal with non-unicast traffic patterns.

Not sure what type of network you need to support your application? Contact Black Box. We have a wide variety of proven networking hardware, as well as years of experience designing and deploying AV distribution and video wall solutions of any size and complexity. We are truly a one-stop shop for all of your AV and KVM projects.

About the Author

Max Kryvenko

Max Kryvenko

Solutions Architect

Max has a broad range of experience in IP technologies and related fields. Before Black Box, he worked as a Network Engineer and as a Field Application Engineer. In his current role as a Solutions Architect, his primary focus is designing and deploying large AV and KVM systems with complex network components. Max holds two M.S. degrees in telecommunications and networking.  He got his first degree from the National Technical University of Ukraine (KPI) and the second from the University of Pittsburgh.

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