AMX view on the progression of signal, connectivity and transport standards

Tim Kridel continues a series of interviews on new and forthcoming connectivity standards, this time speaking with David Passey, director of R&D, video and control at Harman Professional Solutions.

TK: Which new and forthcoming connectivity standards are you keeping an eye on? For example, USB4 Version 2, HDMI 2.1a, Wi-Fi 6E and Wi-Fi 7 seem like ones that belong on the radars of pro AV vendors and integrators.

David Passey [pictured above]: As a business, AMX is obviously watching progression across all signal, connectivity, and transport standards.  Almost every medium tackles a specific set of problems really well. But most mediums also carry their own unique challenges. Different programs here employ different standards based on the applications we’re targeting.  Right transport for right application.

As video purists, of course, we typically baseline performance against HDMI standards. HDMI has always represented the highest quality in AV delivery, especially for our targeted markets of consumer, computer, and professional video. As with previous updates, HDMI 2.1a outlines significant improvements in video resolution and content quality.  Now, for the first time, HDMI 2.1 introduces even higher resolution and colour fidelity with an integrated video compression block called Display Stream Compression (DSC). While the native 8k Video (@ 60hz up to the perfect 4:4:4 colour space) is outside the 48Gbps bandwidth of HDMI 2.1, it easily falls within the transport spec when utilising the visually lossless DSC video compression. The result is pristine video all the way to 8K and beyond for high refresh and full colour space presentations, exactly as the content provider intended.

As routing and distribution experts, we then naturally weigh the benefit of pure video fidelity against the means to which AV source devices can reach their network of connected endpoints. The universality and ubiquity of both Wi-Fi and USB make both means highly attractive in the pro AV space.  Historically, though, these have not been transports that provide the necessary bandwidth for the video fidelity most pro AV customers expect or require. But now, with the expected bandwidth offerings of both Wifi 7 (46 Gbps) and USB 4.0 v2 (80 Gbps) finally levelling up to and/or exceeding that of HDMI 2.1a, we can begin to really target a combined benefit of pure video fidelity, universal signal standard, and ubiquitous connectivity approach.

Everything, of course, is a balance of quality, reliability, robustness, and more importantly – consumer cost.  This is why manufacturers in the pro AV space continue to release products with a myriad of options. It takes a long time for things like USB4.0 v2 to reach ubiquity. And while early adopters take the brunt of cost when these technologies become available, many applications don’t justify the cost burden.  So it’s really a journey for the manufacturer as much as it is the consumer. Striking the right balance of needs and cost.
 
TK: Regarding your answer to question 1, why those? For example, bring your own device or media (BYOD/BYOM) has been a major trend in verticals such as higher ed for years. So maybe one factor is whether tablet, streaming player and laptop vendors are adding support for those standards. Maybe another is that they enable you to add product features and capabilities that aren’t practical or possible with legacy connection standards.

DP: AMX engineering and product management work tightly together to correlate consumer desire and budget to both current and emerging technology standards. And Harman is a company that serves many vertical markets. Being part of Harman means that AMX video technologies need to be as dialled into the enterprise space as much as the entertainment space. This means we’re working with many more signal, connectivity, and transport standards than our reader here will have time to peruse today. But the main take away is that which we’ve already mentioned. Right technology at right cost for right application. As more capabilities are enabled through software, as bandwidth across transports increases to keep up with these capabilities, and as component costs and supply chain continue to fluctuate, we’re obviously being counted on to deliver that balance. 

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