TVM opts for Arista Networks switches in new OB10 truck

As one of the leading OB service providers in Ireland, TVM provides mobile TV production facilities for more than 500 events per year, including prestigious tournaments such as the European Rugby Championship Cup for TNT Sports and the GAA Gaelic Games Championships for RTÉ Sport.

While TVM’s OB solutions historically relied on serial digital interface (SDI) technology, the company recognised the industry’s transition towards IP. Consequently, TVM decided to build its latest vehicle, OB10, equipped with an IP backbone adhering to the SMPTE ST 2110 standard.

Unlike the cabling complexity of an SDI-based truck, an IP-based ST 2110 truck operates with enhanced simplicity and efficiency. All devices are cabled directly to a network router, and a broadcast controller determines the signal routing between sources and endpoints.

This streamlined approach provides greater flexibility in the configuration of OB trucks, enabling engineers to easily add and remove devices, and reconfigure the vehicle without the need to rewire it. It also achieves substantial weight savings by transitioning from single duplex coax – with one media flow comprising video, audio, and metadata – to full duplex fibre capable of carrying multiple essence flows.

In planning for its new OB10 truck, TVM made two primary decisions early on: to implement UltraHD rather than standard HD and to fit an IP-based backbone rather than SDI. In addition, the truck had to be capable of handling up to 24 camera inputs plus a further 30 remote video sources, with high output capacity.

While the company had used IP in its SDI trucks for control networks and other functions, this was its first foray into a pure IP-based mobile facility, according to engineering manager Eoin Coakley.

Coakley reveals that, based on industry recommendations, one of their first conversations was with Arista. “The advice was, ‘speak to Arista’, and once we had those initial conversations, we knew we didn’t need to talk to anyone else about the IP part of the project.”

With the goal of building the best possible outside broadcast solution, TVM worked closely with Arista’s Media & Entertainment specialists who were keen to share their experience and best practice learnings from working on other OB projects.

The ongoing conversations provided a sounding board for TVM’s technical questions early on. This included specification for the network infrastructure and 100Gbps network switches that would provide them with the flexibility and headroom to easily handle 4K video and beyond.

The solution benefits from both the 7500R and 7020TR Arista switch families. The 7500R series combines high scale L2 and L3 forwarding and traffic management with advanced real-time streaming telemetry to deliver the deterministic network performance required for high value SMPTE ST 2110 live production.

It delivers the core media matrix providing non-blocking connectivity for the media processing including: 21 EVS Neuron Gateways, the Grass Valley K-Frame X video switcher and EVS multiviewers. Redundant supervisors in the 7500R provide enhanced resiliency.

The 7020TR series enables highly accurate, secure, scalable and robust SMPTE ST2059- 2 compliant PTPv2 (Precision Timing Protocol) to be delivered through a combined PTP, Audio and Control & Monitoring network – lowering costs, and increasing system visibility.

The Arista switches ensure the network architecture is as reliable and simple as possible. Coakley highlighted the benefits of the 7500R, including its energy efficiency, simplified configuration, smaller size – which saves a considerable amount of space in the confines of an OB truck – and flexible expansion capabilities.

The 7500R and 7020TR switches run the Arista EOS network operating system. EOS is modular in design, based on a multi-process state sharing architecture that separates network state from dataplane processing. It enables fault recovery and incremental software updates on a fine-grain basis without affecting the state of the system, and so delivers the high resilience and reliability required for the most demanding media and entertainment workloads.

“This truck now has a router that is approximately 4000 x 4000 HD,” Coakley added, “so we can hire big boxes and connect them into our network reasonably easily, whereas in a baseband truck we would struggle if somebody said they needed another 100 inputs or outputs.”

Should future scale requirements grow even further, the 7500R chassis is currently fitted with three line cards providing a total of 3x36x100G connectivity, but there remains an option to fit an additional line card, bringing the total throughput to over 28Tbps.

With the addition of OB10, TVM not only has a 4K-capable, SMPTE ST 2110 standards-compliant IP-based mobile facility, but also the in-house knowledge to respond positively to the demands of the evolving IP production ecosystem. The experience gained from this project will make new builds and upgrades in the future easier and more cost-effective. “Working with Arista has helped us expand our skill set in IP networking and get us into the IP world, which is really important,” Coakley confirmed.

The IP-based truck has the flexibility to plug into studios and even other OB trucks where needed, and as new equipment and higher bandwidth requirements enter the market, incorporating them into the truck will be a simple matter of installing a new line card to increase capacity.

Coakley concluded: “In Ireland, we’ve been the first to adopt technology in the OB sector. We were first into HD, first into 3D, first into 4K UHD and now – with the help of Arista – first into IP. When customers call us asking for IP, we won’t be excluded from opportunities. At the end of the day, we’re a technology company, we’re forward thinking, and that’s why we continue to be a market leader.”


Subscribe and Get SVG Europe Newsletters