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NAB 2015: Harmonic Demos Live UHD With Virtualized Gear

LAS VEGAS—Harmonic will be using a suite of its own virtualized gear to run a live satellite-fed UltraHD feed on the NAB Show floor this year. The feed will leverage technology from Harmonic’s VOS initiative, launched last year with the introduction of Electra X.

Electra X will be employed for the live feed along with Spectrum X, this year’s virtualized version of the familiar blue server. SpectrumX will be doing playout with graphics and branding, while Electra X will be encoding the UHD feed at 15 to 20 Mbps per channel

The UHD booth demo is being done in conjunction with SES and Sony. Steve Corda,vice president of business development for North America at SES, described the workflow. He said a 4K camera outside the Las Vegas Convention Center will be fed into an SNG truck, which will bounce the encoded video files via satellite the SES facility in Maryland, then bounce them back via satellite to a 4.5 meter antenna in South Hall. SES will have a complete cable headend in its booth, feeding a cable modem attached to a Sony smart TV doing the display—with no cable box.

Harmonic will have a similar set-up in its booth, #1210. Both live and on-demand UHD content will be displayed, as will two new over-the-top channels, HVN-1 and -2.

Harmonic’s Peter Alexander said the company launched the channels in part to show how much easier a channel launch is in a virtualized environment versus the old-school proprietary hardware way. HVN-1 features informational engineering content. HVN-2 is all about Harmonic’s own 4K footage. Both are at www.hvn.tv.

The HVN channels are built exclusively on Harmonic systems, including the Spectrum ChannelPort integrated channel playout system, Polaris Advance integrated channel playout automation system, Harmonic MediaGrid shared storage system, and is in the process of being upgraded to include Electra X and the ProMedia X Origin multiscreen media server.

Harmonic also rolled out MediaGrid ContentStore 5840, a new dual-redundant chassis that compresses 15 RU worth of conventional MediaGrid storage into 5 RU, and supports up to 360 TB of usable storage per chassis. The new 84-drive MediaGrid enclosure features redundant controllers, SAS fabric and power supplies; supports a choice of RAID 4 and RAID 6 configurations; and uses 4 TB and 6 TB SAS drive technology.

Harmonic also announced the its Virtual Media API, or VMA, an open application control interface for its VOS virtualized media processing platform, which can be used to create a cloud-based playout, graphics and encoding platform. Pebble Beach Systems, Dayang Technology Development Inc. and VJU are using it.

This year’s NAB Show intro menu also incudes the 1 RU ProView 7100 for decoding HEVC compressed streams up to 1080p/60. It also does MPEG-2 and -4, and supports AVC HD and HEVC 4:2:2 10-bit decoding up to
1080p/60. The HEVC decoding capabilities are available to new and existing ProView 7100 customers via a software update and license key.

The new SpectrumX is described as a reconfigurable, software-based 1 RU ingest and playout system for up to four channels that fits into any existing broadcast infrastructure, and can be operated as an SDI server within a conventional SDI infrastructure, an IP-based system or a hybrid of the two.

The system can serve as a CIAB or as part of a Spectrum shared storage infrastructure featuring ICP capabilities. It has integrated graphics and branding capability. All functionality is available via software license keying, for the addition of new codecs for example, for CIAB functionality, IP I/O and other advanced features. Spectrum X is fully plug-and-play compatible with Harmonic Spectrum.

Spectrum X comes in a 1RU chassis now, but will be part of a fully virtualized playout system down the road, according to Harmonic’s Peter Alexander. Harmonic offers this future virtual migration through its software licensing scheme.