SMPTE ST 2110 enables IP workflows

By Tom Coughlin

At IBC2017 and this year’s SMPTE Conference there were significant demonstrations of IP-based workflows with interoperability demonstrations and conference sessions. Clearly proprietary media networking will be supplanted by IP-based workflows. This will enable new equipment economies and open up new opportunities for using and repurposing media. IP workflows will also impact the way we store and use digital content and thus the storage systems where they live.

SMPTE has just ratified ST 2110 standards for IP transport in media workflows. The standard puts video, audio and ancillary data into separate routable streams as shown in the figure below. PCM Audio streams are covered by SMPTE ST 2110-30, uncompressed video streams are covered by ST 2110-20 and ancillary data is covered by ST 2110-40. Some other parts of the standards cover traffic shaping of uncompressed video (ST 2110-21), AES3 transparent transport (ST 2110-31) and ST 2110-50 allows integration with older specification ST 2022-6 that covers legacy SDI over IP.

The separate streams have timestamps that allow proper alignment of the different streams when they are combined together — this timestamp is provided by ST 2059. Each stream contains metadata that tells the receiver how to interpret what is inside of the stream. The uncompressed video stream supports up to 32k X 32k images, HDR and all common color systems and formats.

The important thing about these IP standards is that they allow using conventional Ethernet cabling rather than special proprietary cables. This saves a lot of money on hardware. In addition, having an IP-based workflow allows easy ingest into a core IP network and distribution of content using IP-based broadcast, telco, cable and broadband technologies as well as satellite channels. As most consumers have IP content access, these IP networks connect directly to consumer equipment. The image below from an Avid presentation by Shailendra Mathur at SMPTE 2017 illustrates the workflow below.

At IBC and the SMPTE 2017 Conference there were interoperability demonstrations. Although the IBC interop demo had many more participants the SMPTE demo was pretty extensive. The photo below shows the SMPTE interoperability demonstration setup.

As many modern network storage systems, whether file or object based, use Ethernet connectivity, having the rest of the workflow using an IP network makes movement of data through the workflow to and from digital storage easier. Since access to cloud-based assets is also though IP-based networks and these can feed CDNs and other distribution networks, on-premise and cloud storage interact through IP networks and can be used to support working storage, archives as well as content distribution libraries.

IP workflows combined with IP-based digital storage provide end-to-end processing and storage of data. This provides hardware economics and access to a lot of software built to manage and monitor IP flows to help optimize a media production and distribution system. By avoiding the overhead of converting from one type of network to another the overall system complexity and efficiency will be improved, resulting in faster projects and easier repair of problems when they arise.


Tom Coughlin is president of Coughlin Associates. He is the founder and organizer of the annual Storage Visions Conference as well as the Creative Storage Conference. He has also been the general chairman of the annual Flash Memory Summit.


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