Utilizing the Internet as a television broadcast medium always seemed like a great idea, although early VoD (Video on Demand) trials might beg to differ. By design, the Internet works hard to ensure all packets are delivered but it doesn’t necessarily care when. Not a particular issue if your file transfer takes a bit longer or the website you are browsing is a bit sluggish but in the world of TV one needs a continuous deterministic stream of data to maintain uninterrupted viewing. Infrastructure investment and strict control over QoS (Quality of Service) has made numerous IPTV services possible. Service enhancements and subscriber growth continues as evidenced by the Multi Media Research Group who estimates IPTV service revenue will be worth US$17.5 billion in 2010 and it’s forecasted to grow to US$46 billion in 2014.
Media Gateways and Media Gateway Controllers (or Softswitches) were originally defined by the IETF. The IMS architecture has extended certain functionality and combined other previously separate functions.
Through tight network management, overall QoS can now easily be controlled within the tolerances required for IPTV. A few functions continue to provide challenges. One such function, so fundamental to TV watching, is changing channels. As viewers, we expect our channel hopping commands to be obeyed instantly. Analogue broadcast TV has all channels available at our TV set simultaneously and a channel change simply resets the tuner to a predesignated frequency. Not so with IPTV; the channel we are watching is a stream of bits flowing down our broadband pipe and switching that channel takes time. It’s made worse by the fact that buffering is needed to handle the general issues of IPTV delivery making a raw channel change way longer than a button press and possibly even 8-10 seconds.It’s just not possible to have all channels flowing into our homes but they can be prebuffered within the network close to our homes on a network appliance. When we change channels it diverts the appropriate prebuffered stream thus allowing any delays to be minimized.
For IPTV applications such as this, a specialized, network optimized platform is required. Advantech offers choice and flexibility with platforms supporting the industry leading Cavium OCTEON™ OCTEON Plus™ or OCTEON II™ processors. The NCP-3108 comes in a compact 1U form factor utilizing the OCTEON™ 3860 and can support up to 8 Gigabit Ethernetports. Part of the innovative Packetarium™ range, the NCP-3120 can be configured with any Packetarium™ NPU board including the latest OCTEON II™ based NCPB-2305 and can support multiple interfaces including 10GE. With Advantech’s flexible range of NCP platforms it is possible to build a wide variety of solutions for differing IPTV scenarios and implementations.
Packetarium Network Processor Platforms for IPTV Applications
NCP-3120 1U NETWORK PROCESSOR PLATFORM
The NCP-3120, based on the 6-core Cavium OCTEON II CN6335, brings new scalability to the Packetarium™ range. Network Processor Boards used in the high-end system integrate seamlessly into the 1U platform to facilitate software re-use and allow OEM’s to market entry level variants for cost-sensitive higher volume deployment.
The system is designed with flexibility in mind and offers a range of replaceable front I/O cards for GbE and 10 GbE connectivity as well as a standard PCIe x8 card expansion slot. With the accelerated packet processing capabilities of the OCTEON II, the NCP-3120 is a cost effective platform which meets a wide range of IPTV connectivity and bandwidth requirements. It also supports up to eight 2.5” SATA-2 Solid State Disks for data caching or database applications.
The NCP-3120 runs Debian Linux and will also be available with 6WINDGate software which simplifies the integration of high performance packet processing into multi-core networking equipment. The 6WINDGate software solution includes a comprehensive set of high-performance Layer 2 through Layer 4 networking protocols that accelerates time-to-market while maximizing the performance of Packetarium™OcteonII –based products.