The audio video bridging (AVB) standard, also known as Time Sensitive Networking (TSN), has been marching forward for the past five years. AVB utilizes networking topology to affordably deliver highly reliable, low-latency, synchronized media.
The biggest hurdle to its adoption were the required chip changes for the AVB algorithms to work within the network switches and routers that transmit the audio and video data with the guaranteed quality of service that AVB promises.
Cisco, the largest networking equipment supplier in the world, has been involved in the standard since its inception and working to implement an AVB-capable chipset into its hardware. This summer, the company announced its enterprise-grade Catalyst family of switches will support AVB going forward.
The Catalyst is a strong product family, and Cisco’s main enterprise switch leads the way with 80 percent of the market. Now that Cisco’s mainstream product will support AVB, from a product-positioning perspective, it opens up further opportunities across the industry.
The integration community can expect to see more and more products emerge that leverage this network infrastructure, triggering an entirely new model of media processing, one where the network can be used to support distributed processing rather than requiring local processing for every node.
With Cisco’s mainstream product supporting AVB, it’s easy to forecast that several applications, such as courtrooms, corporate conference rooms, sporting facilities, and convention centers, among others would consider upgrading their switch equipment to realize the full benefits of a reliable distributed architecture.
The vertical market buying cycle for network gear is three to five years, and the new architectures are still in development. Cisco plans to begin shipping its AVB-capable switching products at the end of the year.
There are a handful of early adopters, such as Revolabs and Biamp, that have AVB-enabled solutions already shipping. With these products, integrators can take advantage of early opportunities, leveraging the benefits of these products in installations where customers are already upgrading their equipment.
With an AVB-enabled switch available to reliably deliver low-latency, synchronized audio and video, the design of the deployment is much simpler. Integrators no longer have to waste valuable time hand-engineering and testing network solutions.
It also allows the audio DSP processing and the video compression processing to reside on the network rather than in the room, thereby allowing equipment to be moved to more convenient locations to support traditional facility-wide deployments, such as equipment closets or IT rooms.
In addition, this new architecture reduces costs because equipment can be scaled to match the actual use profile rather than the number of rooms, addressing the expense of deploying processing equipment in unused rooms. As the networking infrastructure moves to support AVB, the ability to move media — audio and video — over these networks with guaranteed bandwidth and fixed latency is now a reality.
Author Tim Root is CTO and EVP Business Development for Revolabs, a manufacturer of wireless USB speakerphones, audio conference equipment, VoIP phones and other unified communications solutions.