Georgia Public Broadcasting

Georgia Public Broadcasting (GPB) provides multiple channels of television and radio public broadcasting and a rapidly growing Internet streaming media service to educators throughout Georgia. In early 2002, GPB selected the Broadcast Solutions Group of systems contractor MCSi with SGI Professional Services to transition their infrastructure to an open digital format.

The SGI architecture needed to meet not only broadcast playout requirements, but also the common data management, shared storage and archiving infrastructure that the station envisioned for both its broadcast and non-broadcast data. GPB also wanted to build a highly reliable centralized storage environment that would support both their Internet service and broadcast operation. The result of the collaboration was an IT-based, open digital infrastructure that met the station's enterprise-level storage requirements and transformed its videotape-based broadcast workflow into a simple, full digital dataflow incorporating media management.

A Hitachi Data Systems 9980V was chosen as the central disk storage environment. It has no single point of failure and is designed to grow seamlessly to dozens of terabytes. To connect all participating departments — broadcast, IT and educational streaming media — the current mixture of platforms, including SGI IRIX, Windows, Macintosh, Linux and other Unix environments, needed to be universally supported. The 64-bit heterogeneous SGI CXFS shared filesystem for storage area networks (SAN) was implemented, which allows platforms of varying operating systems to attach to the central storage — either by network or Fibre Channel — and see that storage just as though it were local to that desktop or workstation. GPB also selected the ADIC Scalar 10K, with LTO-2 tape media, as their nearline robotic tape library.

Due to the large number of statewide educational users with varying familiarity with the information residing in the infrastructure, media management was dictated. Masstech Group's MassStore enabled automated operations, allowing material to be easily found and maintained. The system also provides the interface for the broadcast operations, moving broadcast data between the various storage systems, including SGI Media Server for broadcast MPEG 2 video servers, Virage Solution Server, and Masstech MPEG-4 proxy server.

The station chose the SGI Media Server for broadcast for its ability to ingest and play out a variety of standards-based file formats, i.e. MPEG-2 I-frame, MPEG-2 Long GOP, DVCPRO25/50 and IMX/D-10. The media server also supports the new MXF file exchange format, ensuring that the company can handle any of today's ompressed video formats. For on-air playback of four 24-hour broadcast feeds, the servers are connected directly to the central storage infrastructure through a high-speed, high-availability 2Gb Fibre Channel redundant SAN fabric.

The station's post-production facilities consist of Avid Media Composer, Symphony and Avid Xpress editing suites. They will be integrated with the centralized storage — most likely using one of the interfaces SGI has developed for the Avid environment — in the next phase of the project, now underway. A Virage media asset management system also will be integrated.

For future high-definition (HD) digital broadcasting, SGI — using its Media Server for broadcast system — developed a customized server that will allow GPBto capture both SD and HD feeds (via an DVB/ASI stream). Harris Automation will control both an SGI Origin 300 video server for HDTV service and redundant SGI Media Servers for broadcast MPEG-2 video servers to provide additional SD channels and embedded data services.

GPB began broadcasting using the MCSi and SGI-designed dataflow in mid-2003.

Design Team

Georgia Public Broadcasting
Mark G. Fehlig, PE, CPBE, DE
Mike Nixon, dir. IT

MCSi Broadcast Solutions Group
Gary Hawkins, sr. eng./proj. mgr.
Michael Wright, nat'l sales mgr.

SGI Professional Services
Bill Buhro, solutions architect
Tony Karam, proj. mgr.
Tom Kaye, principal systems eng.
Doug Squire, account mgr.

Equipment List

Media Server
Origin 300 servers
CXFS shared filesystem

Hitachi Data Systems 9980V storage

Masstech Group
MassStore storage
Mass Proxy transcoder

ADIC Scalar robotic tape library

Harris automation

Brocade 2Gb Fibre Channel switches