Grass Valley Debuts New K2 Media Server & Media Client System

With backbone built around iSCSI, gigabit Ethernet, and CIFS, system supports file-based, IT-centric playout workflows at nearly half the cost of other servers.
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Thomson has announced the latest addition to its Profile line, the Grass Valley K2 media server and media client system. Designed specifically for the sharing and reuse of digital media assets, the open-standards based K2 system delivers the high capacity, throughput, concurrency, and availability that media-driven environment demand—with reliability, redundancy, and scalability. The result is a system that supports, IT-centric, file-based playout and distribution workflows, simplifies installation and operation, and provides new levels of network control—all at nearly half the cost of other servers.

“Instead using consumer desktop technologies to cobble together systems that are vulnerable to single points of failure, we’ve blended the latest IT technologies with our unmatched video-engineering expertise to create a system that is highly reliable, straightforward to construct, and that delivers entirely new levels of bandwidth flexibility and network-based control,” said Marc Valentin, president of the Grass Valley business within Thomson.

The K2 system is built around more advanced IT technologies. As a result, it enables a file-based workflow without limitations—from real-time access to video to automated ingest of files from leading delivery services and remote operation to a full range of compressed distribution solutions for cost-effective operations.

Among the K2 system’s core technologies is the highly efficient iSCSI (Internet SCSI) networking protocol that delivers high throughput and storage area network (SAN) performance over standard Ethernet connections. Using Grass Valley’s patent-pending optimization techniques, the K2 system provides deterministic bandwidth and availability for critical applications such as editing and playout.

Streamlining the construction of high-performance, large-capacity infrastructures, the K2 system uses a Gigabit Ethernet backbone, eliminating the need for expensive Fiber Channel fabric and the overhead of its associated operational software. In very large installations, the K2 system can still leverage Fiber Channel technologies, but confines that use to equipment racks, saving users the headache of pulling new cable through existing facilities.

The K2 system also features on-board support of File Transfer Protocol (FTP) and common Internet File System (CIFS). This highly open approach enables it to handle file-based content from other critical applications, such as automation, archiving, billing, feature editing, traffic, and third-party storage packages.

With a simplified graphical user interface for operation and administration, the K2 system greatly reduces training time. Its wizard-based screens walk users through system installation and configuration instead of forcing them to start from scratch.

Unlike other servers that must be controlled through a direct connection, the K2 system is designed to be operated over a network via a remote workstation with customized security.

Using a PC and the K2 media client, for example, users can manage, access, control, ingest, and play out material—and see and control any content over any channel anywhere. The media client interface features an analog-like Jog/Shuttle control that, even in Long GOP mode, offers flexibility and extreme precision. It also supports the Grass Valley NetCentral SNMP-based remote-monitoring software.

The K2 system features out-of-the-box support from automation software leaders, including Crispin, Encoda, Florical, Harris, Omnibus, and Sundance Digital, enabling instant integration and control within today’s increasing IT-based broadcast operations.

Scaling effectively from standalone systems with several channels to shared-storage systems supporting more than 100, the K2 system provides simultaneous playout and recording, robust network support, clip editing and trimming, playlist creation, and the ability to exchange materials with a variety of systems and applications using industry-standard protocols.

The K2 system supports standard- and high-definition (SD and HD) content on the same timeline, including a free mix of interlaced and progressive HD formats as well as automatic translation of closed-caption data from VBI to HD ANC data (and back) as necessary.

The agile compression format support of the K2 system includes that for MPEG-2 (4:2:2 and 4:2:0) in I-frame or Long GOP, as well as SD DV, on the same timeline. It also offers native handling of either MXF or GXF (SMPTE 360M) streams over IP as well as a universal conversion architecture for flexible support of other common formats such as AVI and QuickTime. The system also includes a full range of I/O support (SDI, ASI, and IP) and future MPEG-4 expansion capabilities.

Designed for HD bandwidths, the K2 system is available in two standard forms: an SD-only system that supports four bi-directional channels at up to 50 Mbps, and a two-channel version that can be configured for HD and SD and has the option of adding two more input or output channels. AES and embedded audio is included, and the unit is capable of passing through Dolby E and AC3.

So that it can be tailored to the requirements of each installation, K2 frames can be networked together to increase system capacity.

A K2 system starts at under $35,000. The system will be available in the fourth quarter of 2005.