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Technology Showcase: Fiber Routers and Matrix Switchers

Fiber takes signal switching further. 3/01/2008 7:00 AM Eastern

Technology Showcase: Fiber Routers and Matrix Switchers

Mar 1, 2008 12:00 PM, Bennett Liles

Fiber takes signal switching further.




Extron Electronics Fiber Matrix 6400

Extron Electronics Fiber Matrix 6400

During the past few decades, as audio and video signals have been routed and switched in crossbar frames and matrix units, the capabilities of these components have grown and evolved, along with the connected equipment and the signals passing through. When desktop computers entered broadcast and other video facilities, switching capabilities expanded to include keyboard and mouse control. The evolution continued with the advent of AES, DVI, HDMI, USB 2.0, FireWire, and other new digital video formats, but along with the latest signals came some new limitations on the distance they could travel on copper lines.

The first hardware iterations used with fiber-optic transmission took the form of existing switching units employing external electro-optical conversion between the switching matrix and the fiber lines, but of course, the natural progression was toward direct fiber connection. With fiber adoption rapidly gaining ground, many current matrix switching products are either built exclusively for fiber signal switching or exist as rack units that can be equipped with fiber-connection modules just like their pre-existing copper-interface cards. Now, most of the fiber- matrix switchers available are fully scalable. They can be customized with any combination of interface modules, and they offer optical multicasting and automated script, RS-232, or web-based control and configuration.

AC power backup, security features, and configuration storage and recall are primary factors to consider in these hardware products because they are high-uptime, mission-critical items charged with plant-wide interconnection of audio, video, KVM, and control signals. Load-sharing, redundant, hot-swappable power supplies are common, and automated email notice of power supply failover has become standard, as well. Security features normally include proprietary switching protocols, user-group access rights, and exclusive administrator access to diagnostics and layered control functions. Login requiring user ID and password is a common feature that sets user access levels automatically. Source and destination grouping is easily accomplished, and the information can be stored through a web-based browser interface, a serial connection, or a manufacturer-supplied, configuration-software application with graphical display features and drag-and-drop functionality. With the plethora of video formats and the various limitations these may have in terms of transmission distance and equipment compatibility, the evolution of AV routers and matrix switchers has continued with automatic internal format conversion. This internal conversion, coupled with the physical-interface customization afforded through the use of slide-in transmitter/receiver modules, provides the ultimate in mission-specific configurability.

Available products now range from single rack units suited to relatively light-duty local routing to expandable multirack models handling signals from worldwide operations and incorporating the sophisticated self-test, diagnostic, and total failover features required of high-uptime, heavy-load routing systems. The lines sometimes blur in terminology and market-targeting strategies, but the products listed here have the capability to connect directly through fiber and other types of physical interfaces and switch AV — and, in most cases, other types of signals — through fiber lines in a number of current formats.


Technology Showcase: Fiber Routers and Matrix Switchers

Mar 1, 2008 12:00 PM, Bennett Liles

Fiber takes signal switching further.




AMX EpicaDG

AMX EpicaDG

THE FIELD

The EpicaDG's (Digital Generation) from AMX two primary roles are signal conversion and fiber transmission. By converting the incoming signals into a unified digital platform, the system converts analog and digital video in RGBHV, DVI, HD-SDI, and SD-SDI formats for anything-in, anything-out operation. Typically, such equipment can be found in an environment in which both local and long-distance signals need to be intermixed with complete versatility. The EpicaDG accomplishes this by providing configurability including DVI and other native-local-format connections with ports for 12-fiber, multimode MTP cable in 50um/125um or 62.5um/125um sizes. These provide fiber line lengths up to 3000ft. for input and output signals supporting LCD display resolutions up to 1920×1200 and CRT resolutions up to 1600×1200. The rack chassis is also equipped with cable-management bars for secure tie-down. The fiber ports may be custom-configured along with DVI-D modules for local sources with bit rates up to 2.65Gbps and cable equalization up to 50ft. Each of the DVI boards allows up to 16 signal interfaces, and the fiber boards each contain a local-signal DVI connector. The EpicaDG also offers RS-232 control, standard redundant hot-swappable power supplies, advanced system diagnostics, programmable macro functions, TCP/IP control, and free APControl software.

Evertz offers the X-3232-EO electro-optical router in a 2RU frame for switching digital signals up to 3Gbps on 16 electrical and 16 optical inputs and outputs. The optical wavelengths of 1310nm or CWDM are available on the outputs while the inputs will accept any wavelength from 1270nm to 1610nm. The fiber signals attach on SC/PC, ST/PC, and FC/PC connectors. The electrical connections use BNC connectors carrying video, audio, datacom, or telecom signals. In broadcast mode, the unit can send any input to any number of outputs with internal optical-to-electrical and electrical-to-optical conversion. The X-3232-EO is compatible with single-mode and multimode fiber-optic cable, and SNMP remote router control and monitoring is available with the Evertz X-NCP2 control panel or via the Evertz VistaLink software application. VistaLink offers remote terminal-equipment configuration, fiber-module health status and link monitoring, discrete signal monitoring, multiwall-display monitoring, hardware-fault alarms, and configuration change notices. The application also features fault-alarm logging, visual status, and audible alarms to complement email and pager notification, contact closures, and secure access control. The Alarm-event Notification Client allows users to define alarms and set various severities and conditional filters for critical alarms.

The Extron Electronics Fiber Matrix 6400, introduced at InfoComm 07, has brought a new level of versatility to the switching-system market for complete end-to-end digital AV-signal transmission and routing over fiber-optic cable. Expandable from 8×8 up to 64×64, the system is compatible with the Extron Fox 500-series and HD-SDI fiber-optic transmitters and receivers. The Fiber Matrix 6400 supports data rates up to 4.25Gbps for computer-video resolutions up to 1600×1200, DVI-D, and multirate SDI. System monitoring, hot-swappable I/O boards, and redundant hot-swappable power supplies are among the primary features the switchers offer. Built on a rack frame that provides eight card slots, the unit interfaces using LC-style connectors on each eight-port card. The cards come in two versions: The Fiber Matrix I/O Board-MM supports 850nm multimode connections, and the Fiber Matrix I/O Board-SM takes single-mode or multimode fiber at 1310nm. The boards may be used in any combination. Each board's fiber ports exist as a separate input and output, but they can be configured as a linked input/output supporting bidirectional capabilities for a Fox 500-series product. The monitoring system provides self-diagnostics for the I/O boards, fiber links, power supplies, internal fans, and general functions of the switcher. Front-panel LED indicators provide quick verification of signal presence and status.


Technology Showcase: Fiber Routers and Matrix Switchers

Mar 1, 2008 12:00 PM, Bennett Liles

Fiber takes signal switching further.




Harris Platinum Opto+

Harris Platinum Opto+

The new Grass Valley Optical Switch Router (OSR) is the newest member of the Acappella family of small routers. The OSR can be configured either symmetrically or asymmetrically, with port counts in multiples of four from 8×8 to 32×32. Physically, the OSR is packaged in a 19in. frame — either 1RU (up to 16×16) or 3RU (port counts greater than 16×16) — and 14.7in. deep. Two connector types can be provisioned, either LC or FC/APC with redundant AC powering. The OSR's photonic switch core is both format/protocol- and data-rate-independent. Any signal that can be transmitted over a fiber can be switched — RF, SD/HD, Ethernet, serial in either single-mode or multimode (including CWDM), and bidirectional traffic. Performance is enhanced because there is no signal conversion from electrical to optical. The OSR can be operated as a standalone or a network element within the Encore platform via Ethernet or serial communication. The OSR's impressive specs include less than 1dB of optical attenuation, greater than -70dB crosstalk, and a 10-millisecond switching time.

For direct fiber I/O connectivity, Harris offers the Platinum Opto+ modules, the PT-OXS-IB+ and the PT-OXS-OB+, for its large and medium-sized Platinum routers. This teams the processing power of the Platinum line with the capability to handle longer HD-SDI signal transmission with a 3Gbps (1080p) infrastructure. The Platinum Opto+ modules use standard small-form-factor (SFP) connectors, and they support FP or DFB lasers in the transmitters (PT-XOS-OB+) and PIN or APD receivers (PT-OXB-IB+) for pricing to suit the transmission distances required. The Opto-equipped Harris Platinum routers may use either single- or multimode fiber. The Platinum MX can scale up to a 128×128 switching matrix in a 9RU frame for HD-SDI, SDI, ASI, and analog video with AES and analog audio. The modules are front-loading and hot-swappable, scalable in groups of eight inputs or eight outputs with redundant controllers and cross-points, along with load-sharing power supplies. In a 5RU frame, the unit can scale up to 72×64 and up to 144×128 discrete audio channels. Automatic format conversion allows a complete variety of any input signal type to any output format. Hardware and software provide a number of control solutions.

In sizes from 1RU to 9RU, the MultiDyne EOS-4000 fiber-optic switcher is scalable in matrix sizes from 32×32 up to 288×288 for video signals up to 4.25Gbps. With SFP transceivers on all ports, the unit has hot-swappable port cards, power supplies, and fans. Accepting up to three modular port cards, each with up to 48 SFP transceiver modules, the EOS-4000 groups the physical ports on each card as input/output pairs for 850nm, 1300nm, and 1550nm optical media. Also swappable is the CompactFlash card that acts as the CPU hard drive for storing the controlling software and non-volatile configuration data. Configuration commands are received on a 10/100 Ethernet connection, and they enable the unit to emulate optical power break with and without path failures; make topology changes; and reroute point-to-point, loop, or multicast connections. Also available is dynamic device testing to simulate faults and identify improperly operating devices. The EOSXplorer software interface provides graphical displays with the EOS physical view, logical view, chassis health monitor, and port card health monitor. The user can simply click on any port and drag it to any other available port — or, in logical view, the user can employ a drag-and-drop technique in a Windows Explorer-style display. The health-monitoring displays use gauges and graphs.

Opticomm OptiLinx OLX-3000

Opticomm OptiLinx OLX-3000

The OptiLinx OLX-3000 from Opticomm can switch digital video up to 4.25Gbps on any of its 144 ports (4RU model) or 288 ports (8RU model). Available link rates include 1.0625Gbps, 1.25Gbps, 2.125Gbps, 2.5Gbps, and 4.25Gbps. Full-duplex switching capacity extends up to 612Gbps. The chassis accepts a variety of modular port cards with SFP transceiver modules for specific network configurations. These can include point-to-point, multiple loops, and multicast topologies simultaneously. Each of the transceivers presents a physical connection for an optical input-and-output pair. The port cards are hot-swappable, as are the fans and power supplies. Any wavelength — standard 850nm, 1310nm, 1550nm, multimode or single mode, or CWDM and DWDM — is supported with complete optical transparency in links up to half a mile. Remote monitoring and control is facilitated with a drag-and-drop graphical interface using Opticomm LinxView software. Configuration and out-of-band control options include the ability to quickly isolate interconnect problems, evaluate the reliability of network data transfer, test hardware configurations, and simulate faults. All of these operations are done through 10/100 Ethernet and RS-232 ports using simple, intuitive command sets to establish links, change topologies, and emulate optical power breaks with and without path failures.


Technology Showcase: Fiber Routers and Matrix Switchers

Mar 1, 2008 12:00 PM, Bennett Liles

Fiber takes signal switching further.




QuStream Cheetah 512XR

QuStream Cheetah 512XR

For handling relatively heavy fiber routing loads, QuStream offers the Cheetah line of high-definition routers and conversion products including the Cheetah XR multirate routing switcher series in two frame selections. The 512XR can be configured as a 512×512 or 1012×128 or 512×256 in a 27RU frame. Also available is the 1024×512 1024XR in a 41RU frame or as a 1024×1024 in two rack frames. There is internal conversion for HD to SDI, digital to analog, and fiber I/O — all on interchangeable rack cards for custom configuration. Control, configuration, and diagnostics are facilitated with 3500PRO, 3500PRO-LE, PERC2000, and Viewport diagnostic software through redundant matrix-frame controller cards. All frames have single-point lockdown for quick, hot-pluggable removal and insertion of input and output cards, and redundant AC power. There is a 9-pin serial-communications port for RS-232/RS-422 and a looping connector for the Pesa Routing Control (PRC) connection. There are frame and system-control alarm connections, NTSC/PAL and SMPTE reference connections, and an RJ-45 connector for a matrix-frame controller using a 100Base-T Ethernet network. The removable door provides easy access to all internal components, including the high-density, hot-pluggable, front-loading matrix cards.

For long-distance routing of high-resolution video, USB 2.0, keyboard, mouse, and serial and audio signals, Thinklogical offers the DCS digital cross-point matrix switch in three sizes, providing matrix configurations from 32×32 to 144×144 ports. The DCS has a modular design consisting of separate chassis for video and the other signals. The two are connected on a dedicated network and function as one. Both provide hot-swappable, redundant power supplies and fans, along with fiber ports in groups of eight or 16. Video and audio sources may be multicast to multiple ports or broadcast to all output ports. The Linux CPU runs a graphical user interface that allows alphanumerically identified sources to be arranged in physical and logical groups, with configuration changes made on the fly. The Thinklogical line of fiber-optic KVM extenders complements the DCS matrix switch.

The Utah-400 series of digital routing switchers from Utah Scientific covers a wide range of applications including standard- and high-definition video and AES/EBU digital audio switchers in various matrix sizes. The fiber-optic input/output option allows fiber lines to connect to the Utah-400 routing switcher frame with I/O boards, each of which handles eight signals. Internal converter boards hold electrical/optical and optical/electrical converter blocks, which can be removed from the rear of the frame for servicing and field installation. Rear-panel assemblies facilitate access to the converter blocks for fiber-optic cables with either single or dual-LC connectors. Each block carries two signals, and four blocks fully equip each 8-channel board. The eight inputs and outputs per board allow a signal range of 6 miles for HD video and 10 miles for SD. Coax and fiber connections may be mixed in the frame in any combination. The Utah-400 series features a cross-point-redundancy option in all matrix sizes, redundant power supplies and controller cards, signal presence detectors on all inputs and outputs, an internal monitor matrix, and low power consumption. A single 4RU frame unit can house a 64×64 matrix. This can be expanded all the way up to a 160RU, 20-frame unit carrying an 1152×1152 switching matrix.


For More Information

AMX
www.amx.com

Evertz
www.evertz.com

Extron Electronics
www.extron.com

Grass Valley
www.thomsongrassvalley.com

Harris
www.harris.com

MultiDyne
www.multidyne.com

Opticomm
www.opticomm.com

QuStream
qustream.com

Thinklogical
www.thinklogical.com

Utah Scientific
www.utahscientific.com


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