Technology managers need to know about AVB because it allows them to manage and optimize networks that now are converging to carry both data as well as audio/video

What is Audio Video Bridging?

Rick Kreifeldt | AVnu Alliance

What is AVB?

Audio Video Bridging (AVB) is the common name for the set of technical standards developed by the IEEE 802.1 Audio Video Bridging Task Group. With AVB, A/V environments benefit from vastly simplified network infrastructure, reduced implementation costs, unified management, and the ability to ensure delivery of current and next generation video and audio applications.

AVB Standards are developed, published and maintained by the IEEE, the group that defines Ethernet. This is the first time in the history of networking that the network itself has been designed to handle the specific demands of transporting professional quality audio and video data in a reliable and predictable way.  Before, we always relied on clever techniques devised by the audio/video industry to handle time sensitive data (such as audio and video).  Now, the network has made special accommodation for audio/video data and the network natively supports these types of data and use cases.

Applications for this capability span across markets, such as professional audio/video, broadcast, automotive, residential/consumer and industrial control.

What is AVnu Alliance?

The AVnu Alliance is a powerful consortium of 65 industry leading companies that are committed to promoting the adoption of AVB standards and certifying compliance & interoperability of AVB networked devices in the Professional, Automotive and Consumer Electronics markets.

The AVnu Alliance opened certification testing for AVB-enabled professional audio products at its appointed testing house, the University of New Hampshire InterOperability Laboratory (UNH-IOL). AVnu Certification is available to Alliance member companies.

Why is AVnu certification important?

Certification is the only way to ensure that end users are not impacted by potential issues with products not working with each other properly.  AVnu Alliance has created a robust and complex compliance and interoperability certification program to ensure AVB interoperability across a broad ecosystem of A/V devices across the network infrastructure

How does AVnu certification work?

The AVB conformance testing is extremely complex but some tests can be performed in house by the vendor before submitting for testing and certification. Once a product has been submitted to UNH-IOL for testing, the product is subjected to tests based on the IEEE 802.1 standard, as well as additional requirements that AVnu Alliance has selected as relevant and necessary for proper system interoperability.

The AVnu Alliance writes a procedure which may then be used to certify products to a selected subset of IEEE standards. Those tests produce detailed reports and data that is fed back to the manufacturers to help address any issues they may have.  Once those have been satisfactorily resolved and the product has passed through the testing procedures without any difficulty, it can be submitted to AVnu Alliance for formal approval and the ability to use the AVnu certification logo. AVnu Alliance is not a standards organization and does not write the standard. AVnu writes the methods for certification to standards written by the IEEE and others to ensure interoperability.

Are there AVnu Certified Devices Today?

AVnu Alliance Certification program is now open for AVB-enabled professional audio products and bridges at its appointed testing house, the University of New Hampshire InterOperability Laboratory (UNH-IOL). Products from several manufacturers are currently in testing.   

Why do technology managers need to know about AVB?

Interoperability is the missing puzzle piece when connecting systems made up of equipment from several manufacturers – or even from the same manufacturer. It provides a common language or framework of basic commands and operations that are understood by all devices, and this commonality is what allows even complex systems to be set up and configured with ease. Technology managers need to know about AVB because it allows them to manage and optimize networks that now are converging to carry both data as well as audio/video.

Can you give us a few examples of applications where AVB would be used? (in a few different markets if you can)

 

Professional Audio/Video:

Live performance, large systems such as nightclubs/houses of worship/or theme parks, broadcast and recording studios are all natural professional applications to use AVB.  Historically, these professional A/V applications have been hampered by two main problems: high per-node cost and daunting technical expertise required to deploy a networked A/V system.

For example, large broadcasting facilities that need to route and switch uncompressed HD video can find their infrastructure greatly reduced when an AVB network does the routing for them instead of an expensive central HD-video.

AVB replaces both the physical complexity of cables and the network complexity of earlier proprietary solutions with an open, standards based approach that enables interoperable platforms to offer more affordable and better market solutions. AVB has all the performance needed for the most demanding systems with simple network management.

Residential:

Today, consumers are streaming more sources from the Internet, connecting multiple mobile devices, and adding networked speakers and other endpoints. They are using the home network to connect to the Internet and distribute digital content among their many devices.

The convergence of these trends has made the network a vital part of the home AV backbone. Network switching has become just as important as traditional matrix switching in the residential space with regards to content distribution and media streaming. Adding foundational support to the network such as managed switches, network security and AVB to manage time-sensitive traffic such as audio and video is critical for building a truly converged network for consumers and their content.

Automotive:

As industry interest and adoption of AVB continues to grow within the automotive space, now is an opportune time to think about next-generation specifications. Today’s modern connected car has to be a lot more intelligent in order to add interesting and innovative infotainment applications.

With so many new infotainment applications, such as Eco-driving and Augmented Navigation, OEMs are looking for ways to increase bandwidth. Currently, there is no way to get the audio/video around the car and that is hampering innovation. There has been a growing interest around Ethernet in the vehicle in order to create a more robust, scalable, network architecture in the vehicle so that these devices can become smarter and OEMs can add future applications for mid-year model refreshes.

Standard AVB protocols such as Stream Reservation Protocol (SRP), traffic shaping, and Precision Time Protocol (PTP), bridge functionality, audio streaming, camera systems and body control systems, are designed to help reduce integration challenges and development costs for automotive makers. The goal of this standard, certified by AVnu Alliance, is to give automotive manufacturers confidence that all parts of the complex automotive network will communicate seamlessly with each other.

Will the adoption of AVnu certification simplify system installation?  Will it save material costs?

With AVnu-certified AVB products, end-users can choose lower cost per node devices from multiple manufacturers to create AV systems using products that are certified to work together. The combination of a wider choice of compatible products and lower cost per node brings high-quality AV networking within reach of virtually any system, regardless of size or market.

AVB is being developed by the IEEE standards and therefore it is future-proof and will benefit from increasing speeds and other additional features.  Additionally, upper-layer features such as security and network management can be used as needed without engineering a custom solution, therefore the system grows with the need.

What’s the next hurdle for AVnu if it is to become an industry standard?

AVnu Alliance is an industry consortium that is dedicated to the promotion of AVB. AVB is already an industry standard, having been endorsed by the large membership of IEEE and more importantly being designed into numerous products of all the leading manufacturers in the professional AV markets, as well as the major silicon building block providers.   The next step is working to continue expansion in applications and market segments, such as consumer and industrial automation in the same way – working towards building a better network and driving AVB as a ubiquitous evolution of these open standards with broad market appeal, multi-vendor implementation and ultimately a wide ecosystem of interoperable devices to create an easy-to-use, easy-to-integrate, many-to-many, true network of devices. 

 

Rick Kreifeldt

Vice President, Research and Innovation
Corporate Technology Group
HARMAN International

Chairman/President – AVnu Alliance

Rick has 20 years experience in R&D at HARMAN and is currently responsible for company-wide advanced research.  Previous to his current role in centralized R&D for HARMAN, he was head of Automotive Research, led the HARMAN Professional HiQnet networking initiative and before that was Director of Engineering for the dbx Professional brand.  Rick has served as the Chairman and President of the AVnu Alliance since it was founded in 2009.

Rick holds fourteen patents in the areas of DSP algorithms, networking protocols and system design.  A National Merit Scholar, Rick graduated Cum Laude from Utah State University with a BSEE. While conducting graduate studies at Utah State, he was involved in several significant DSP research projects, including time at the Los Alamos National Lab Theoretical Division.


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