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Tech Showcase: KVM Switches and Extenders

When designing workstation deployments, consideration must be given to space and convenience, but there are so many other variables, depending on the size, scope, and system capacity — and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Current KVM solutions are just as varied as the projects they’re used in. Here’s a look at some of the solutions that are currently available.

A huge market arm for signal extension has been KVM, and Adder’s ADDERLink Infinity 100T puts that capability on the existing IT network as a very compact transmitter using USB bus power of less than three watts. Supporting video resolution up to 1920×1200 at 60Hz through DVI, DisplayPort or VGA, the transmitter also carries line level stereo USB audio. USB 2.0 devices such as keyboards, mice, tablets, joysticks and others may be connected. 

The Aten KE8950 4K HDMI KVM over IP extender from Aten allows access to a computer system from a remote USB console to anywhere over an intranet. The KE8950 KVM over IP extenders support one HDMI monitor at each end, providing a video display image with 4K x 2K video resolution (up to 3840 x 2160). KE8950 also support 1Gbps SFP fiber module expansions, enabling connections via fiber optic network to extend distances in transmission. The 4K HDMI KVM over IP extender consists of a transmitter unit that connects to the computer and a receiver unit that provides console access from a separate location. The computer is accessed from the remote console over a standard TCP/ IP network via Cat-5e/-6 cable that allows point-to-point, point-to-multipoint, multipoint-to-point, and multipoint-to-multipoint administration. 

The Aten US7220 Thunderbolt 2 KVM docking station is a dual-computer KVM docking station that allows users to share Thunderbolt devices, a dual-monitor setup, and USB peripherals through a single cable, directly to two computers. The US7220 enables two Thunderbolt 2-enabled computers to share peripherals with ultra-high 20 Gbps data transfer rates. As a KVM sharing switch it allows you to easily switch the keyboard, video, mouse and peripherals between two computers with the push of a button. With the ability to daisy-chain up to five Thunderbolt devices, the US7220 connects up to 11 peripherals including Thunderbolt monitors and video capture devices, plus USB drives, printers, high-definition cameras, keyboards, mice, and more. 

Utilizing Aurora’s IPBaseT technology, the IPX-TCW3 Series is a 4K2K IP wall plate based on BlueRiver NT platform. The IPX-TCW3 Series can be set up as either a transmitter (encoder) or a receiver (decoder) to make installation, inventory, and troubleshooting easier. It also includes an option slot to add other IP capabilities, like ExtremeUSB (USB 2.0 over IP) or Dante audio, for a more complete distributed system. Audio, video, data, and control can be sent securely to one or many IPX-TCW3 transceiver units using off-the-shelf 10G fiber or Cat ethernet switches. When the IPX-TCW3 is set up to be a transmitter, the two HDMI inputs become a source switch and the HDMI output becomes a potential loop out. When set up as a receiver, a user can select the local HDMI inputs or an IP source. The audio can be de-embedded at any location, break away, and/or be sent to or received from a Dante-enabled device. The USB 2.0 option is also flexible, working as a KVM and/or a high-speed data transfer (480Mbps) for memory sticks. 

 AtlasIED, manufacturer of audio distribution, voice evacuation, and AV convenience solutions also provides a rackmount 8-port KVM switch. The MMK-KVM8 is a modular switch for use with LCD consoles. It features an optional IP-based remote console port, on-screen display menu, password security, hot key control, and auto-scan control. It also provides complete keyboard and mouse emulation for simultaneous boot up process. The Switch is compatible with Windows, Netware, Unix, Linux, MAC OS, and Sun MicroSystems. Additionally, the MMK-KVM8 provides Access Control List security function and can store up to eight independent user accounts. 

Emerald Unified KVM from Black Box provides a smooth path to IP, supporting hybrid environments of mixed network connections, mixed resolutions (including UHD/4K), and a mix of physical and virtual machines. Emerald supports DisplayPort 1.2, 4K video at 60 hertz, and 10-bit color depth over standard IP network switches and connections. Operations still working primarily in HD can add 4K at their own pace using Emerald, and transition individual user groups as the need arises. Emerald also provides full support for virtualized environments, enabling connectivity for any combination of physical and virtual servers within a single KVM network and giving operators a flexible migration path to virtualization. The Emerald KVM platform offers virtual machine support for VMware, Microsoft, and Citrix using RDP, RemoteFX, and PCoIP. 

Digibird’s UniStation, as the operator’s workstation solution, provides a single, personalized, centralized, visualized view of any contents, as well as easy access to remote workstations or desktops. All of the resources are composed and displayed on the monitors in front of the operator, with four multi-viewer or full-screen displaying, which can be freely movable and sizable, switched or pushed together to any other display location or the video wall. Without moving their seat, by the single keyboard/mouse set, the operators will have a complete, centralized overview of the situation, which optimizes them to work in a comfortable, intuitive, and effective way. 

The EvertzAV MMA10G suite is an end-to-end network based distribution and routing technology that uses 10G ethernet at its core for transport of the packetized video, audio, and control data. The platform allows multiple video, audio, and control streams to all be carried over a single 10GE port. To guarantee troublefree operation, the MMA10G solution features purpose-built 10GE switch fabrics, which come in a wide range of port counts to handle any size project. EvertzAV has developed a series of gateway products, in-room AV switch platforms, and visualization monitoring tools to facilitate a variety of project requirements. 

The 4K DisplayPort KVM over IP receiver unit (the EXT-DPKALANS-RX) from Gefen completes its new 12-model Gen 2.0 AV over IP line-up. The EXT-DPKA-LANS-RX features a maximum output resolution of 4K 30 Hz 4:4:4. HDCP 2.2 and 1.4 are also supported. USB, RS-232 2-way IR, and audio can be routed independently between any sender and receiver unit, allowing end-users to control any of the sources and the displays within their network. This receiver features a built-in scaler to help optimize the image for a variety of displays and different viewing environments. It also includes a video-wall controller that accommodates screen configurations up to 16×16. The receiver’s integrated USB hub with two USB 2.0 and two USB 1.1 ports accommodates touch panels, keyboard and mouse, and a variety of supported devices. 

The Hall Research UH2X-P1 is an HDMI + USB + LAN over UTP transmitter/receiver extender with HDBaseT 2.0 and PoH (sender and receiver). The set can extend uncompressed audio/video along with IR, RS232, USB 2.0, and IP using a single run of Cat-5e/-6 cable up to 100m long. The PoH compliant extender comes with only one power supply that plugs to the sender. The receiver does not require a power supply and gets its power through the Cat-6 cable from the sender (using IEEE802.3af standard). It supports 4K (UHD) and 3D video. The extender provides audio return extension as well (from receiver to the sender). The independent audio return source is user selectable and can be either from the ARC pin of the HDMI connector at the Receiver (ARC signal from the connected TV), or from a separate SPDIF audio input connector provided on the receiver. The receiver has two USB 2.0 ports acting as a USB hub to support all USB 1.1 and 2.0 devices and at HDBaseT 2.0 specs. 

IHSE’s Draco Compact XV 16×8 fiber matrix system is a dual-head 4K KVM matrix solution based on IHSE’s instant switching technology. The Draco Compact XV 4K is designed to meet the extreme bandwidth requirements for sharing multiple UHD and DCI video signals in the same switch fabric. The fixed-size KVM system supports up to 16 dual-head 4K computers and eight dual-head 4K monitors at resolutions up to 4096 x 2160 at 60fps, with 4:4:4 color sampling on each display. For extended display configurations, IHSE provides internal synchronization for each extender to enable perfect timing for seamless resolutions up to 8192×2160. The Draco Compact XV is designed for small to mid-sized KVM switch system requiring the latest 4K ultra high resolution displays. 

IHSE expands the Draco vario series with the Draco vario L481- BIPVMC interface card. The device enables the integration of virtual machines connected by TCP/IP into existing Draco tera compact or enterprise-based Physical KVM matrix switch systems. The result is a functional remote desktop solution with all the benefits of the Draco KVM system. This virtual KVM solution results in a streamlined multitasking virtual environment where multiple operating systems and applications can be accessed directly from the physical consoles of the Draco KVM system. This device is suited to control rooms with virtualized process automation, Network Operations Centers (NOC) that require realtime access to real and virtual target devices, as well as in the TV and film industry, where virtualized desktops are increasingly used. 

Extending KVM control can be done over HDBaseT on a single Cat5e or Cat-6 cable for up to 100m for [email protected] or 150 meters full HD 1080p/60 or 1920×[email protected] with the KanexPro 4K HDMI over HDBaseT 2.0 with USB 2.0. The EXT-HDBTKVM100 extender supports uncompressed HDMI video, audio, USB 2.0, control signals, and PoH over a single CAT5e/6 cable. The PoH compliant extender comes with only one power supply, which means that it can be powered from either Tx or Rx to save installers time and added cost to installing a power outlet. One USB type B port is added on the Tx for connecting to PC or USB peripherals and two USB 2.0 ports are provided on the Rx side to work like a KVM- or USB-based touch panel using USB HID to create remote USB data and video extension. 

Many high security applications require KVM switches that can isolate control between computers as well as ensure that only the right users can have access. The Kramer HighSecLabs Secure KVM switches are equipped with features that address those application concerns. Multiple models are available supporting DVI-I and VGA video inputs and between 2 and 8 ports. Robust USB support ensures unidirectional peripheral isolation as well as filtering to assure connection to only keyboards or mice. These Kramer KVM switches also feature Common Criteria EAL 4+ approval and compatibility with NIAP security requirements. 

Lightware Visual Engineering designed the VINX Video Network Extender for 1GB networks, and they have DIP switches on the front for quick channel selection. Capable of operating in unicast and multicast environments as well, the extender set includes an advanced EDID management system. The extenders can scale the video up to 1080i and 4K [email protected] Even KVM functions are available through the builtin USB ports which can also handle data storage. For easy video wall installation, the system includes a Video Wall Wizard. 

Matrox Extio 3 Series are IP KVM extenders that deliver 4Kp60 4:4:4 UHD or quad 1080p60 4:4:4 performance over standard gigabit ethernet at unprecedented low bitrates. Extio 3 IP KVM extenders can be configured as a point-to-point or networked KVM extender, extending multiple video, keyboard, mouse, USB 2.0, and audio signals using a single fiber optic or copper cable. Ready compatibility with standard network switches significantly diminishes the total cost of ownership to deliver a scalable KVM matrix switching solution. Featuring four DisplayPort connectors, Extio 3 also extends multi-display desktops with a single pair of transmitter and receiver devices.

Rose Electronics provides a KVM extension solution with the CrystalView DVI EX. It takes DVI video, keyboard, mouse, audio, and USB 2.0 devices up to 1,640ft. over Cat-X UTP cable and its stereo sound can be transmitted in either direction. The remote unit has three integrated USB 2.0 ports and these expandable to as many as 13 high speed USB 2.0 devices using USB hubs. This can be used for additional devices such as webcams, microphones, speakers and flash drives. Up to 500MA of power is available at each USB port for running high-power USB devices. 

The TLX Client Integration module from Thinklogical is a virtual machine processor combined with a KVM (keyboard, video, and mouse) extender transmitter, eliminating the need for a separate client device in VDI (virtual desktop infrastructure) and cloud installations. The integrated client machine can be used as a zero client, thin client or full-featured PC, and can host any standard VDI client software, including those produced by VMware, Citrix, Microsoft, and others. It is also compatible with many third-party accredited software images. 

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