Applied Technology: Is The Dedicated AV Matrix Switcher Dead?

The dedicated AV switcher represents more than a $2B market. Even so, the latest generation of IP technology can distribute video, audio, and control signals over long distances at much lower costs, signaling a clear threat to dedicated AV switcher solutions.

Most of us can remember a time when we carried a Nokia phone in our pocket and when Nortel ruled the business phone market with a market cap in the billions.Today, Nortel is bankrupt and Nokia recently sold off their money-losing phone division to Microsoft.

While the dedicated AV switcher market generates over $2B in revenue today, the latest generation of IP technology can distribute video, audio, and control signals over long distances at much lower costs, signaling a clear threat to dedicated AV switcher solutions.This potential paradigm shift is based around two key technology transitions in both display technology and data infrastructure technology.

Trend #1 –Rise of 4K displays

The cost of a 4K display has dropped rapidly, and this summer 4K televisions generated nearly 40% of all television revenue. With 50” models selling for around $500, the impact of these high resolution screens in signage, entertainment, and other commercial applications will be dramatic.

Trend #2 – Low cost 10Gb Network switches

With the ever increasing demand for bandwidth used in video, photos, and other media requirements in the data center, the 10Gb switch is fastest growing segment of network market.Like most things in IT, once the volume grows to a certain point – prices plummet.The cost of these switches has declined as much as 40% over the last two years – and now can be purchased for as little as $1500 directly from major brand such as Cisco, Netgear and Dell.

Paradigm Shift – Uncompressed 4K Video, Audio and Control over a standard network switch

Until recently, HDBaseT was the only technology capable of distributing 4K video over long distances. However, the recent launch of new packet-switched 4K multimedia-over-IP solutions, warrants that we explore the strengths and weaknesses of each approach.New packet-switched 4K multimedia-over-IP solutions, such as the ZeeVee ZyPer4K solution, enable uncompressed 4K video, 8 channel digital audio, RS-232 and IR control, as well as a full 1Gb network port at each encoder and decoder.

Since the device converts all the content to standard IP packets, nearly any mainstream 10Gb network switch can replace the traditional AV matrix switcher – reducing both the purchase cost as well as the risk of sunk cost if the switch has to be repurposed.Additionally, integrators don’t have to purchase special cables to ensure that the project is warrantied by the manufacturer.

The ZeeVee ZyPer4K solution allows the use of lower-cost standard 10GB network switches to route 4K/UHD video.

The ZeeVee ZyPer4K solution allows the use of lower-cost standard 10GB network switches to route 4K/UHD video.

Key benefits of packet-switched 4K multimedia-over-IP solutions

Lower Costs -By using off-the-shelf IP switches and cables, the cost per port is driven by the entire networking market, not just the AV market.If 10Gb network switches follow a similar price reduction trend as the 1Gb network switches since their introduction, the initial costs should be much lower than custom high-end AV matrix switchers.

No Programming costs

With many larger AV matrix switchers, programming each port to the proper device is a key component of the overall system.By contrast, with 4K Multimedia over IP, the devices are assigned an IP address automatically, enabling the entire system to be setup and running in minutes.

Resolution and color bit flexibility

The systems ability to utilize light compression techniques enables the user to change the color depth, frame rate, and resolution as needed without having to worry that he will exceed the bandwidth of the switch.This enables such techniques as 4.4.4 color spaces, higher frame rates, and other bandwidth demands to be accommodated.

Free Video Wall Support

The system will automatically scale and support video walls up to 25 screens without an extra co-processor or other hardware.The ability to generate multiple sources on a single monitor is also possible, enabling large displays to have multi-view capabilities.

Long Distance cable

With the new fiber transmitters and receivers, the system can support cable lengths up to 40 kilometers.

Packet-switched 4K multimedia-over-IP solutions will be potentially disruptive to some AV technologies, but their ease of deployment will expand the market for these types of systems to distribute video, audio, and control signals over long distances at significantly lower costs.

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