This year's NAB proved to be evolutionary rather than revolutionary, with some attendees saying they had been "under whelmed."
More than 100,000 attendees filled the halls at NAB2005.
HDV is a big hit, bringing the popular DV-style production much loved in SD to HD world. Many described it as "democratizing" HD, and such developments can only accelerate the adoption of the format. Affordable HD news could be just around the corner with the introduction of low-cost cameras, and the attendant laptop editors. Moore's law seems to be slowing, as chip manufacturers wrestle with thermal issues in the quest for 25nm geometries. We were promised HD would be processed in software but hardware acceleration is still required for most computations. We see this especially in the area of compression codecs.
One way to make strides is to leverage the power of readily available graphics processors — often called GPU acceleration. These processors supplied as PCI cards are mass-produced for the gaming market, and the economies of scale give awesome power for a couple hundred bucks.
There was plenty of evidence of manufacturers listening to the demands of broadcasters, and designing equipment that switches between formats. Most broadcasters are going to run SD and HD in parallel for a few years and there is a lot of demand for mixed 720p/1080i operation. New studio cameras and production switchers can now operate interlaced or progressive at the push of a button. The old arguments between 720 or 1080 are no longer an issue, as producers can choose the format to match their style of programming, and the facilities simply switch to suit.
From automated playout point of view, it is now possible to purchase master control switchers that can run SD or HD, giving more options for multichannel operations running a mix of channels.
This flexibility extends from baseband to RF. Microwave vendors are easing changes to channel allocations and supporting different modulations schemes (COFDM/VSB) with software switchable transmit/receive equipment. In the DVB arena, DVB-T transmitters can also be used for emerging DVB-H applications.
For more information about NAB2005, visit www.nabshow.com.
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