From AVB to AvB to A_B

I think I’m sick. It could be classified as a “wasting disease,” similar to tuberculosis. Similar but not, as I am not actually wasting away physically. Rather, my hopes are diminishing.

For the third straight year, I’ve attended InfoComm with the expectation that someone, somewhere would have actually developed and implemented IEEE 802.1 AVB (Audio Video Bridging) to its full potential. As in, implemented it into a product that exploits (A)udio and (V)ideo.

Sadly, I return home again, empty. Admittedly I didn’t look as hard this year as I did in previous years, likely due to the fact that I didn’t find much last year and hope has been on the wane.

What did I find at InfoComm 2012? Biamp has an A_B solution, Tesira; Sennheiser previewed an A_B microphone. And, there were others. There was also an AVB booth on the show floor  where a number of audio manufacturers touted their involvement and intent to produce hardware, some of which did, indeed, look very interesting.

Hey, it’s nice to have a newer digital audio networking technology with lower latency, greater bandwidth and higher channel count. I’ve even vetted my first A_B design, in an application which could not have been done as efficiently with other technologies. So there are things to look forward to. Just not AVB.

But I continue to watch this little ship twirl in the back eddy, with little prospect of joining the mainstream of the audiovisual industry. I now realize that I’m not the one suffering from wasting disease; it’s the standard that’s wasting away. I’m still sick, just heartsick. But I’ll recover.

After all, sticks and stones may break my bones but incomplete acronyms will never harm me.

About Thom Mullins

Thom Mullins leads the audiovisual design services group for Affiliated Engineers Inc. in Seattle. He is currently chair of InfoComm International’s ICAT Council and has taught classes for both InfoComm and NSCA. For more, visit the Blogger Bios page.

10 Responses to “From AVB to AvB to A_B”

  1. Hi, Thom!
    Hope is on the way. :)
    Axon and Lab X will be demonstrating the first incarnation of the Xavity AVB *video* platform at the AVnu pavilion at ISE this coming week:

    http://www.labxtechnologies.com/2013/01/22/lab-x-issues-xavity%E2%84%A2-video-license-to-axon-for-avb-connectivity/

    This initial system features standard-definition SDI over 1G, but bigger things are on the horizon…

    - Eldridge

    • Thanks for the heads-up, Eldridge. I followed the LabX link and read what Lee has written there. I look forward to hearing more from the show. I imagine they will have a demo at InfoComm’s shown in Orlando. I’ll be poking around to find out more.

  2. Thom,

    I would encourage you to consider viewing the elapsed time as the necessary gestation period to bring the concept of AVB to reality. Rather than wasting away, AVB is indeed strengthening, albeit more slowly than everyone would like to see.

    Even with the waiting period, I believe AVB continues to be strongly positioned as it is the method that has been optimized and put forth by the IEEE for synchronized, reliable transport of media over Ethernet. I also see where it would have a long life span since it naturally scales up with network speeds and is agnostic to the type of data that it transports, audio, video or otherwise. Once a mechanism (AVB) becomes part of the network itself that is providing synchronized, reliable data transfer, it seems likely that more data types, including video, will begin to take advantage of its use.

    AVB was created by the IEEE, the people who define how Ethernet works, specifically to make the network capable of media transport. It’s more than a clever new method for squeezing AV through a network; it’s actually the next generation of network. It’s an open standard and royalty free which means it can be implemented by any manufacturer at a low cost and holds great potential for widespread interoperability across manufacturers using the AVnu certified implementation.

    Looks like strong legs to me. I’ll guess AVB gets there, video included.

    Dave

  3. …shaking my head…

    I’m not feeling any better.

  4. Hello Thom!
    In your example the IT proved to be not up to the job! One of the ideas behind AVB is that there is some economy of scale in the *infrastructure* when everything is on *one* backbone.
    The following can and will be split across multiple departments:
    *cost of redundancy in the network
    *cost of upgrading from 100Mbit->1Gbit->10Gbit->40Gbit
    * cost of keeping everything up and running.

    AVB allows you to use a serious junk of the available bandwidth during business hours for running AV but freeing all this up during nights for backups, etc.

    So as soon as the IT infrastructure department think of itself as a service provider to multiple trades within the building AVB makes total sense. IT guys still thinking that infrastructure is “the cables between their computers”, than the need to change!

    • I agree with you on all points, Harald. As it was relayed to me, it was NIMBY response from IT – when they realized they would have to give up that much bandwidth, they were unwilling to yield. It will take major leap for that IT department (and most, in my opinion) to see themselves that way.

  5. Interestingly I had a conversation earlier this year with a member of the “AvNU” who shall remain nameless, who whispered quietly in my shell like ear that really it was never intended for AvB to transport Video as Video already had it’s well established mode of transportation through reams of twisted pair, commonly known as a network…….

  6. I was at infocomm i was at the 30 min meeting.
    At the end of the meeting i ask what about video, the presenter pulled me to the side and said you are looing at 3 to 5 years

  7. True, Harald. In prior writings on this issue, I haven’t seen much interest from the video manufacturers, which is the core of my frustration with the standard.

    There is only one switch manufacturer that Biamp has tested as being AVB compatible and I think that is also the case with JBL/Harman. Your comments about HP and Cisco are also enlightening, given that the switches available are not from manufacturers that are recognized as “core” network device manufacturers and also that Cisco is a founding member of AVNU.

    Another interesting aspect to this is the acceptance by IT of AVB into their network. A recent account I heard was of an IT department who, once they found their piece of the pie was limited to 25% of the bandwidth, told the AV contractor or consultant to move forward with a dedicated AV network.

  8. Hello!
    As much as I understand your frustration I dont think that not yet having a V in AVB is a real problem for the time being.
    Biamp TESIRA is one of the very few endpoint products actually shipping and the support in main stream networking switches is *cough* “limited”. So far there was not even an eye blink seen from HP and Cisco of implementing AVB into their switches.