At NAB, routing switched to a new track in more ways than one. Many companies introduced new products, some of which are quite intriguing.

Mixed environments

Utah Scientific showed several new products, including a GigE IP switch that can be controlled by Utah's SC-4 routing control system. It allows setting traffic priorities and assigning ports to VLANs, and it has a front panel status display and redundant power supplies. It enables dynamic changes to a broadcast LAN instantly without reprogramming from a GUI.

The company also announced that the UTAH 400 supports 3Gb serial interfaces (SMPTE 424M-2006), including in mixed environments, because I/O cards can be supplied with 1.485Gb capability as well. The company showed larger frames (up to 288 × 288) with redundant cross point capability, and a TDM audio router. Utah now offers a software package for creating and deploying virtual panels over a network and showed some of the new control panels, notably the UCP-DT with touch-screen interface.

QuStream (formerly PESA) showed a large-frame Cheetah router that permits a single rack to hold an 864 × 864 system. The company announced it could provide CWDM optical interfaces in 16 I/O channels at a time. By late summer, 3Gb capability will be available.

The company demonstrated a rather unique capability to route DVI signals in the same frame as baseband video. Its latest audio routing offering, Cheetah DRS, based on a GigE backbone, allows the physical layer of an audio routing system to be distributed to points near sources and destinations in 1RU boxes. The audio is networked over GigE to all other frames, with matrix sizes available from 64 × 64 to 2048 × 2048 (mono). Audio I/O is either digital (110Ω or 75Ω unbalanced) or analog with breakouts from multipin connectors. Time code and RS-422 are also possible.


Since Thomson acquired Grass Valley, there has been speculation that the routing products would be consolidated. So far, that does not appear to be the case. This year, the company began to harmonize control panels across the entire line of control systems (Jupiter, Encore and Prelude). The panels will work with any of the control systems, over Ethernet or RS-422 cabling, as appropriate.

Grass Valley also introduced 3Gb (SMPTE 424) capability for its largest routing switchers in the Trinix line. The I/O will require 3Gb cards, which will allow for mixed capabilities transparently in one frame. Trinix also features a new cross-point card that offers redundant cross points on one board. The architecture will allow self-healing capabilities without the complexity of a second card by automatically swapping over to the redundant circuit in the event of a failure.

Life saving

This year, Evertz showed the fruits of the integration of Quartz' routers into the company''s product lines. The EQX router is the most obvious demonstration. It scales from 16 × 16 frames to 1152 × 1152, with 576 × 576 in 26RU. All I/Os are 3Gb-capable and reclock at rates from 19.4Mb to 3Gb. In a move to compatibility with high-end IT gear, the power supplies are 48V units. The attention to detail has the fans running at 80-percent speed unless one fails, which should prolong the life of each fan. The internal monitoring channel allows sample points throughout the signal path for complete analysis. EQX offers redundant cross points with one path at a time replaceable in the event of a failure. The new control panels allow 64 character mnemonics.

The company also introduced the XRF6 series L Band and IF routing system. It is scalable from 64 × 64 to 512 × 512. It offers internal AGC and has 60dB isolation between paths.

Incorporating enhancements

Harris introduced enhancements to its Platinum series of large-frame routing switchers. It now offers 3Gb I/O, as well as an audio demux card, which allows embedded audio to feed to a TDM audio board for remux and switching. The matching output card makes a full system, which allows swapping and remapping of audio inputs from embedded audio sources.

The company introduced the CENTRIO option module for the Platinum, which brings multi-image display processing to routers. In the past, a display processor contained internal routing. In this case, the display processing is an option for a router. Multiple displays can be driven from one module, which has access to the full set of inputs available on the router. CENTRIO features waveform monitoring developed by the Harris Videotek group.

Harris introduced a new control panel, NUCLEUS, which works with the complete router line as well as many Harris processing and distribution solutions. It features relegendable buttons and a software-defined display, which changes with thefunctions of the panel. The company also highlighted new control panels for its routers, the RCP-IDe series, featuring LCD display buttons that can contain graphics images in sizes, including 16 × 1, 16 × 16, 32 × 32 and 64 × 1.

Taking control

As with others, the 3Gb buzz was present in the NVISION booth. The company supports SMPTE 424 across the full range of products. The company introduced a series of small routers in sizes from 16 × 16 to 32 × 32 (CR1616 and CR3232) with either local or remote control panels. Up to four routers from the series can be controlled from one switcher without an external control system, making cost-effective small systems practical. The routers support HD, SD, AES, analog audio and video. The systems also support embedded audio and Dolby E. In addition, there is a new port router for control systems with a new GUI. The system can be controlled by the company's Envy control system.

NVISION showed new control panels with LCD relegendable buttons (up to eight characters). The NV9640 (2RU, 32 buttons) and NV9641 (1RU, 16 buttons) allow the buttons to be used for source selection or as part of a menu tree to expand the functionality of the panels and permit more options in less space. Virtual versions of both panels are available for deployment on desktop computers.

Seamless control

Pro-Bel celebrated its 30th anniversary at NAB by introducing a family of routing switchers: the Cygnus line. Three frame sizes are possible: 576 × 576 in 26RU, 288 × 576 in 10RU, and 288 × 288 with redundant cross points in 10RU. Larger systems can be configured by combining frames. All switchers are 3Gb SMPTE 424 capable. The company's backplane BNC connectors are specially manufactured for 3GHz. The company offers a new version of Morpheus for control of Cygnus. Control panels featuring LCD legends are available. Comprehensive monitoring of the frame is done, and four monitor busses allow monitoring of multiple inputs or outputs. The system permits a redundant cross-point card to be installed, which is updated on cross-point status at all times to allow seamless changeover should the need arise.

Essential transmissions

Lawo introduced the Nova73 HD high-capacity audio matrix, designed for mission-critical signal transmission. The system supports matrix sizes of up to 8192 × 8192, with MADI, ATM and AES3 interfaces. Additional interfacing possibilities include the DALLIS interface system, which integrates other formats and creates decentralized, fiber-optic connected systems. Modules are hot-pluggable. The system supports 96kHz sampling, is Dolby E-compatible and includes signal processing from simple gain adjustment to comprehensive processing, such as equalizers and limiters. It is available with a self-healing dual-star topology.

John Luff is a broadcast technology consultant.