Transmitting 4K Signals In A Flexible, Scalable And Cost-Effective Way


Our hunger for ever more digital information, alongside increasing display standards, calls for an evolution in data transfer. LIGHTWARE offers a unique, high-quality, low cost and scalable solution.

As Audio Visual (AV) devices become commonplace in our lives, users are increasingly demanding real-time, media-rich content, especially high-definition video. This transmission of AV data over an IT network (LAN, WAN or Internet) presents a growing challenge for the AV industry.

High Definition (HD) resolution has become the standard for TV broadcasting and computer displays with Ultra HD 4K pixel resolution also fast-spreading. But no product exists that can extend a 4K 120Hz 3D video signal (or other ‘retina display’ type computer video content) in an uncompressed and low latency format. Additionally current video standards (DisplayPort 1.2 HDMI 2.0 and SDI 6G) based on copper cable connectivity are limited to a distance of 70 metres or less if the transferred resolution is 4K UHD at 30Hz or higher.

The EU-supported LIGHTWARE project has succeeded in developing a 40 Gbit optical scaling extender called Ultra Bandwidth Extender (UBEX). UBEX delivers ethernet based, uncompressed, long distance transmission of 4K 60Hz 4:4:4 signals with low or zero latency, providing the highest image quality, even for high-end users with over 160 video port networking units.

Potential applications include: remote operation of medical devices, large office collaborative working solutions and systems for entertainment environments.

The UBEX solution

The UBEX video over ethernet solution using visually lossless compression can extend two UHD signals over a single 10 Gbps Ethernet port. Using only half the router size results in a significant cost saving, as compared to other 10 Gbps IP based architectures.

UBEX has a bandwidth that can reach up to 40 Gbps with the number of fibres required for the transfer depending on the link speed and optical modules used – typically one or two fibres to reach 10 Gbps, two or four for 20 Gbps and four or eight for 40 Gbps.

Scalability is another advantage of the new UBEX architecture, with the maximum reachable distance adjustable to between 400 m and 100 km, depending on the signal properties and the optical module configuration installed. LIGHTWARE developed a Matrix Management Unit to maximise implementation within larger systems.

With hardware and software developed in tandem, the LIGHTWARE team was able to demonstrate partial functionality to stakeholders and customers, and then integrate their feedback into the build. This iterative approach influenced the team’s decision to first release a product with limited functionality which could then be continually upgraded.

As project coordinator Mr David Nagy says, “While there are some solutions able to provide 4K signal transfer using Ethernet/IP, there is no other device on the market which contains the collective features of our unique device.”

Extending the family

Due to the constant demand for high quality real-time video, UBEX customers include digital cinemas, performance spaces, sports broadcasters and interactive museums. Besides these industries, the team also see potential for visualisation and communication applications within the medical and industrial markets.

After successful testing, the first batch of the 20 Gbit version of the device was produced in 2017, and the first orders have already been received. Following Lightware Ltd’s commitment to continual improvement, as Nagy says, “Our engineers are already improving the product and developing additional features to satisfy different end-user needs. Our aim is to create as useful and as high quality a product as possible for our customers.” The 40 Gbit version is also close to completion and is soon to be launched.

Source: Cordis

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