HDTV over IP

Tektronix has demonstrated the first transmission of uncompressed real-time gigabit high-definition television (HDTV) signals over an Internet Protocol (IP) optical network.

Working in collaboration with the University of Washington, the University of Southern California Information Sciences Institute (USC/ISI) and Level 3 Communications, Tektronix has demonstrated the first transmission of uncompressed real-time gigabit high-definition television (HDTV) signals over an Internet Protocol (IP) optical network.

The demonstration was conducted as part of SuperComputing 2001 at the National Co-ordination Office for Information Technology Research and Development booth.

The HDTV transmission demonstration proved that Universal Network Access System (UNAS) technology has met the critical requirements to distribute challenging high-speed streaming data (which requires that the entire data stream be sent together), such as uncompressed HDTV signals, over IP networks.

Although large amounts of data are sent over proprietary or ATM networks today, IP transmission is expected to be the preferred method of delivery as it becomes the most cost-effective method of rapidly sending information – including voice, video and data – over the Internet.

The UNAS project is supported by the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency Information Technology Office’s (DARPA/ITO) Next-Generation Internet (NGI) program.

Tektronix, USC/ISI, and the University of Washington (UW) jointly developed the technologies for the demonstration.

These developments are a part of the DARPA NGI supported projects that include the UNAS project and USC/ISI’s Next-Generation Internet Multimedia Applications and Architecture project. This demonstration builds on the work of UW who first pioneered real-time HDTV over IP at an unprecedented, record-setting demonstration at SC1999.

Leading up to the demonstration, the key enabling technologies were tested and refined using the networks of the Pacific Northwest Gigapop and Mid-Atlantic Crossroads, as well as the Internet2 Abilene backbone network. During the demonstration, the digital video content was sent from UW’s laboratories in Seattle, Washington, to the receiver at the SuperComputing 2001 exhibition hall in Denver via Level 3’s advanced IP fibre-optic network. The demonstration set a new standard for Internet performance by streaming digital video at 1.5 Gb/s-more than 25,000 times faster than a typical computer modem.

The ResearchChannel provided the streaming HD content via Pacific Northwest Gigapop’s ultra-high performance ‘Pacific Wave’ exchange facilities, and along with the UW, the custom high performance multimedia server.

Level 3 provided the network over which the transmission occurred.

The Tektronix technology allowed video processed as data packets to be sent, received and compiled into play-out streams. Tektronix technology was used to compare packets at the input and output to determine if packets were lost or reordered during the transmission.

The DARPA/ITO UNAS project fosters the development of new reconfigurable broadband interfaces for network-edge applications. UNAS is envisioned as a configurable network element that resides at the Internet’s edge and adapts to the network’s myriad protocols, hastening the deployment of new applications and services. UNAS technology will provide Internet ‘on-ramp’ capability for applications ranging from distributed computing to telemedicine.

Tektronix took a primary engineering/design role in developing the Universal Network Access Engine (UNAE) for the system. The UNAE is a key building block for network edge devices such as terminal adapters, service multiplexers, edge switches, and Quality of Service monitoring equipment. The flexibility of the UNAE will aid Internet architects in designing and testing new protocols that are better optimised for optical networks.

HDTV signals in SMPTE-292M format were chosen to represent the many types of demanding broadband content that will be sent over IP-enabled wide area optical networks. While the data rate of the transported video payload and encapsulation was greater than 1.5 Gb/s, the current UNAS architecture can support rates up to 2.5 Gb/s.