Sencore – openGear Live & Online Sept 29, 2020

Aaron Doughten:
Just quick introductions. If you don’t know us, I’m Aaron Doughten, Product Manager here at Sencore and …

Seth VerMulm:
Seth VerMulm, Senior Product Manager at Sencore. And we both together have a hand in a Sencore’s openGear products.

Aaron Doughten:
There is our contact information, anybody who’s curious. Chelsea will actually put those in the comments as well. So if you have any questions directly for myself or Seth, feel free to reach out to those email addresses or to sales@sencore.com.

So just to kind of give you a quick look at the agenda. Like I said, we’re going to be discussing what we refer to as the AtlasGear Solutions, but essentially our card-based type products that work in the openGear form factor. I’m just going to give you a list of model numbers there, which obviously you don’t have any context maybe. But we’ll be talking about essentially some standards conversion type equipment with the SDI2X, and then kind of our line of receiver decoders with the AG 6000, the 5800, and 4400. Some of those have been around for a while. Some of them are new. We’ve also introduced some new technologies like 2110, and some of those products, and so we’ll highlight what that looks like. And then we’ll be talking about the digital turnaround products. Again, in that kind of standards conversion type conversation, give you a highlight around those. And then of course, we’ll open it up for questions.

But just to kind of give you an overarching, I guess, position of Sencore and the openGear chassis. For us, I think one of our biggest strengths from a Sencore perspective is putting our receiver decoder cards in the 2RU chassis. I’m actually the product manager for one of our software based receiver decoder platforms, and to this day, I beat my head against the wall, trying to get the costs down per channel. And openGear is just one of those form factors, one of those systems that is really, really hard to beat when it comes to density and capabilities, in addition to redundancy and things like that.

Obviously, when we’re doing software-based decoding, we’re still dependent on PCI express cards and some things like that. And we can kind of open up to different applications, but it still comes down to just having that ease of use. Again, the density, the redundancy. And then of course, the DashBoard functionality and things like that are pretty huge. And so for us, it’s just gaining all of those kinds of strengths [inaudible 00:02:31] openGear chassis.

So yeah, we’ll talk about SMPTE 2110 to SDI conversion. This is our first product I wanted to talk about is our SDI2X or our AGSDI2X. So this product is purely aimed at doing 2110 or 2022-6 to SDI turnaround and vice-versa. Each card supports up four channels of turnarounds so we’re able to ingest streams over 10GB fiber ports with hitless switching and all of that great stuff. And being able to turn that around to up to 3G-SDI, kind of taking legacy SDI infrastructure and turning that around to 2110 systems, our new 2110 production systems. But then also doing the opposite of that [inaudible 00:03:25] with 2RU openGear form factor, where we get up to 40 signal conversions, in our 2RU chassis, which is a nice, dense, top of rack solution for a lot of our customers.

One thing we do have is, I guess this is the whole … the running joke with the linebackers making the way for the small guy to run a play, but talking about our little small form factor version of this product as well. It’s just a little standalone kind of third RU type product. Has the same capabilities of the openGear card, but it also has an HDMI output. And this is really kind of just aimed at taking 2110 streams and turning them around to HDMI. So if you have your basic consumer television or broadcast monitor that doesn’t have a native 2110 output, this box can ingest those streams, support those streams, and then turn those around to HDMI, which can be a nice, a low cost solution, as opposed to investing into kind of a higher dollar broadcast monitors with native 2110, or just kind of retrofitting legacy monitoring architecture and stuff like that.

So next step, we’ll talk about our AtlasGear receiver decoders. I mean, we work for Sencore. We have to talk about receiver decoders. I think everybody knows that’s our thing. Obviously, a lot of our flagship products are receiver decoders and so we do want to highlight those. First one is the newest of the IRD product line is the AG 6000, the UHD HEVC receiver decoder. I hinted at this a little bit before with the SDI2X conversation talking about 2110, but really the newest addition here is adding 2110 output to that receiver decoder card. So what we’ve done is yanked off all of the SDI circuitry and put in a 2110 solution. So we can do a decode of HEVC, H.264, MPEG2, up to 4:2:0 10-bit and turn that around to 2110 output. That’s with hitless switching, P2P synchronization, all of that great stuff.

So that’s been a nice addition to this particular platform. And again, it’s 10 channels of decode and 2RU, so it is a nice dense solution for our customers for decoding. Somehow missed BISS-CA on this slide. I have no idea why. But anyway, one of the things we talked about in the round table was also adding BISS-CA descrambling to this platform as well, which has been a big push in the European theater. And hopefully that comes over to the North American markets as well. But that’s one of the things we’ve added to, I guess, we’ll see that across all of the receiver decoders, but definitely one of the things we’ve been working hard on is the 2110 output and BISS-CA de scrambling for the AG 6000. So I think the next one, I’ll hand her over. Seth, you can kind of continue.
Seth VerMulm:

Yeah. The next one in our lineup here to talk about is the AG 5800. So this is one that’s been around for a while, but is really beloved by so many customers in terms of throw anything at it and it will decode it, and it will decode smoothly and stably. So this is our contribution focused received decoder. H.262, MPEG2, 4:3:3 10-bit update. 16 channels of audio or passthrough. So just high-end, full featured, focused on those kinds of contribution applications with high bit rates and high quality that need to be pushed and delivered across contribution links. So lots of additional features on these, options for simultaneous HD/SD, 3G and HDMI outputs, and then all the option cards that go along with it. So these are a two card solution.

You’ve got a video card that’s married to an input card. So satellite RF, you’ve got your SS2 and S2X capabilities across the board there, and being able to have multiple satellite signals received at the same time, making for easy switching and redundancy and backup. You’ve got your typical terrestrial RF inputs. Of course, ASI and MPEG/IP are also features that make us have the full suite of receive and decode capabilities. As Aaron said, BISS capabilities are licensable right on the card. DVD-CI, cam slot, cam card capabilities also available. So just dense, throw anything at it, it’ll decode it. It’ll decode it smoothly. It’ll decode it stably, and it will work with anybody’s signal. It’s kind of what we’re known for and what we strive for there. So just been a great all around card for us.

Aaron Doughten:
And one of the things I did kind of forget to mention, across all of the AG decoder platforms, all of those input options that you see for MPEG/IP, ASI, satellite, whether it’s SS2, S2X, and then terrestrial and cable RF input options, those are shared across all the platforms. So it’s really just the … some of the decoding capabilities like UHD or HEVC or 4:2:2 10-bit, we’ve got contribution, primary distribution, secondary distribution type focuses. But it seems like the front end stuff seems to be the things that are shared across a lot of those platforms. So that’s why you have kind of the two slot solutions. So we can marry cards together and get, I guess, a more tailored solution for whatever that particular customer application is.

Seth VerMulm:
All right. And the next one in our product line is the AG 4400. So this is the workhorse of our distribution decoding. So 4:2:0 8-bit. This one is used all over for signal capture, signal decoding, for re-encode, dense monitoring applications, feeding video walls with live decoding signals. But again, 10 of these in an open gear chassis, and you’ve got a very dense, cost-effective solution. Eight channels of audio, HD and SD resolutions, HDMI and SDI. It’s really all the same capabilities, features, functions as the 5800 we just talked about, minus some of the contribution formats and the 3G and 1080p outputs. So again, all the same input and scrambling and descrambling capabilities there. So yeah, great product that just works.

And this gives you a little details about those different back plates that go along with each of these cards, depending on which type of input type and option card you have there. So all the decoders have audio and SDI outputs, HDMI outputs, and then all of them come standard with ASI in and out. And then you’ve got your RF one in the middle there. So this is various RF connectors coming in, feeding tuners, and you can actually have both active at the same time, being able to keep a primary and a backup ready to go. And then on the far side, you’ve got the IP version. So this has got dual [inaudible 00:11:46] IP ports, gigabit, providing a primary and a backup, and a typical UDP, RTP, FEC, and also some advanced features like [inaudible 00:12:04] filtering and things like that. So these get married up to the AtlasGear card, depending on which options are ordered and make it functional for the inputs you need.

Aaron Doughten:
One of the things I just realized, somehow got missed, it was probably my fault, but being the AG 6000’s back plane is actually not on this picture. But let’s all close our eyes and imagine for a second that the SDI and HDMI stuff has been yanked off of this back plane and two SFP cages are installed on it. But that essentially-

Seth VerMulm:
I think you had that on another slide there, but that’s-

Aaron Doughten:
Yeah. Oh yeah, there it is. As you can see, I’m sure that was exactly what you saw in your imaginations. So yeah, that’s what the AG 6000’s 2110 back plane looks like. Of course, we just populate with all of the necessary ASI or MPEG/IP or satellite ports and stuff like that. But of course, the 2110 stuff requires a little bit different output ports and stuff like that on it. So just wanting to make sure we highlighted that as well.

Seth VerMulm:
And this is just an overall feature comparison between the three decoder cards, as Aaron talked about. The AG 6000 adds HEVC and UHD to really on top of the 4400. And the 5800 in the middle there is our contribution one with the 1080p, the 4:2:2 10-bit, and the 16 channels of audio. So what this really goes to show is we have an option available for just about every use case in terms of decoding compressed video. And yeah, this is what we do.

Aaron Doughten:
Yep. Yeah, definitely. Yeah, they’re definitely tailored to, I’d say, their individual applications. And we spec them like that on purpose so that they are competitive in the market and make sense. And of course, the openGear form factor always compliments that kind of a feature tailoring to different applications and stuff like that.

Seth VerMulm:
And then, in all of our decoders, we have lots of different advanced features. Some of these are standard features. Some of these are licenses on top of the base feature set. But caption/subtitle/teletext, decoding insertion in the SDI and even overlay on top of the screen. We’ve done a lot of work in the ad insertion market as well. So SCTE35 to 104 conversion, being able to pass along those ad insert messages down the line go for both that and the Cablelabs ESAM interface as well. For satellite, we can do MPE, de-encapsulation, PID filtering, and we have lots of different input redundancy and fail-over capabilities for just about any need, whether that’s automatic fail over manual fail-over, and different rules and capabilities for failing back to the primary signal as well. So very flexible and powerful features there that should work in any application.

Aaron Doughten:
All right, diving into the next topic. So these are the, again, AtlasGear form factor, openGear form factor cards, but these are primarily focused around not decoding, but doing, I guess you would call it standards conversion. Digital turnaround is the term that we like to use, but definitely something where we see this everywhere in the world, where we are taking in different types of RF signals and turning them into IP or ASI or what have you. These cards are specifically built to do this in a very dense, but also I would say very cost-effective, cost competitive type product. And so of course, some of the things will look pretty similar in terms of what the back planes and the dual cards look like. But here essentially we’ve yanked off the decoder chips because we don’t need to do that and we’re staying in compressed world.

And so this is where we’re doing our, like I said, your RF to IP to ASI and any which way, but definitely a very good solution for digital turnaround with the AG 2600 as well.

Seth VerMulm:
Right. Very dense and cost-effective mass. APSP receiving to IP with all the different redundancy capabilities we offer. RF to ASI, whether that’s satellite, terrestrial. Or ASI to IP, all possible in our AG 2600 turnaround cards.

One of the things, we’ve touched on it a little bit, is BISS-CA and how that’s coming into the market and how Sencore is responding. I don’t know if you want to talk through that. I know you touched on it a little bit earlier.

Aaron Doughten:
So BISS-CA has been really … I talked a little bit about it in the round table discussion, but that was one of the things that I think the market’s been reacting to fairly quickly with the mandate by the EBU and Eurovision, to support this new type of scrambling protocol or encryption protocol.

And our receiver decoders are everywhere in Europe, North America, APAC. I mean, they’re everywhere doing all kinds of decoding type applications. So this is one of those things that we’ve reacted to, well, pretty quickly, especially for the contribution space, but it very, very quickly bled into really kind of where the openGear cards play in as well. We have another product called the MRD 7000, which is more, I would say, geared towards extremely flexible, very, very high bit rate type of decoding. And so that was the first product we actually implemented BISS-CA on, but it was very … weeks later, when we started actually doing the development on it, that people were beating on our door doing it for the AG 6000, the AG 5800 and 4400 that we just discussed. And so that’s been something that Seth and I have been coordinating with engineering, getting feedback from customers, making sure everything’s … working with different encoder vendors and different scrambling systems and stuff like that. So yeah, that was one of the things that has been kind of a big hitter in terms of just implementing. It’s a new license without having to upend your whole receiver decoder chain.

Seth VerMulm:
Right. Making it work in the current platforms without requiring some major upgrade, hardware change, something like that.

Cindy:
What’s that look like then for your customers in those contribution facilities or applications now, if they want to have support for BISS-CA? How does that work for them?

Aaron Doughten:
If they’re lucky and they bought Sencore receiver decoders, it’s actually just a software license that … I mean-

Seth VerMulm:
Software upgrade [crosstalk 00:19:33].

Aaron Doughten:
Yeah, just a software upgrade, just reach out to us and send us your serial number and we can issue the license and do the software upgrade and you’re off and running. I mean, obviously it’s a little bit more complicated when you have to register your receiver decoder with the particular content provider, but that’s peanuts when compared to having to buy completely brand new receiver hardware in order to receive these streams, whether you’re doing the digital turnaround stuff, receiver decoding, receiver decoding in any of those kinds of applications, just having a simple get on the phone with a salesperson and get some licenses and stuff like that. It’s going to be a much bigger, better way of doing it than doing a full rebuild on something like that.

Cindy:
I have a question about your SFPs. I was just curious about what type of SFPs you’re using in your products and is that sort of a standard in a lot of your installations right now, that people are filling those SFP cages and what types are they using?

Aaron Doughten:
Yeah, so that’s actually a pretty good question that we get. The support guys specifically get these questions that, customers bought the product and they’re like, well, what SFPs can I buy? What can I use? The question is actually, it’s a little bit simpler than that is, are your SFP cages compliant with MSA compliant SFPs? And the answer is yes. So as long as it’s a 10 gig MSA compliant SFP, whether it’s single mode, multimode, if it’s compliant with that, we’re good to go. We have a lot of SFPs here at Sencore and we mix and match them all the time and we have never run into an issue where it’s an SFP. It’s always pulling the fiber cable … it’s the actual physical, the wires, they’re a little … in a lab environment, they can be kind of delicate. And I think we fight that more than anything when we’re doing our testing and things like that. But in terms of the SFPs, shouldn’t be a problem. Anything from one gig, 10 gig, as long as it’s MSA compliant, you’re good to go.

Cindy:
I have a question about the video wall application you talked about. You said that the receiver decoders that you have, one of the typical applications are video walls. And I was just curious what type of technical issues regularly come up in those types of installations? Or maybe none, maybe there’s never a technical issue, but curious about what issues you see and …

Aaron Doughten:
I’ll do the 2110 one.

Seth VerMulm:
Sure.

Aaron Doughten:
And I think everybody on the call could probably appreciate that anything with 2110 involved, it’s just a monster of a technology to get your arms around. And we’ve had a couple of really big installations where we’re just doing … the really popular receiver decoder thing is to populate video walls with decoded video. So we’ve been doing that with SDI for years, and that’s fantastic. And all of a sudden you throw out SDI completely and you go to 2110, well, then you have all kinds of IP networking issues, jitter problems, just IP jitter type problems. Certain equipment doesn’t like communicating with other pieces of equipment. Control system type issues. And so it feels like we took a 15 year step back in terms of being able to turn up a system like that.

Not that that’s a bad thing, I’m not trash talking 2110. I’m just thinking in terms of the last couple of years of just trying to get that technology off the ground in our own products, but also helping our customers get those technologies off the ground has been a big challenge. But I would say yeah, that’s just fresh in my mind, dealing with 2110 issues with that stuff.

Seth VerMulm:
Well, and I think on top of that, from a video wall perspective, you’re the gold standard, right? Your decoder can’t be the point of failure in any of those applications. You want to show the failure or the problems coming through and be as representative as possible as to how the signal really is. And Sencore spent decades building the capabilities and the robustness into our receiver decoder products to make sure that, you know what, just about anything you throw at them, it will handle. It will automatically configure itself. It’ll make pictures, it’ll make audio, it’ll work. And then, how gracefully does it handle when the incoming stream has different errors and issues, you can’t have that cause a lock up that then doesn’t recover when the stream comes back to being good.

So I think that’s really our strength in this receiver decoder market, is being able to handle anything you throw at us and handle it gracefully. Even problems, handle problem streams gracefully. Recover quickly if there are errors, but generally just put that picture through, be the trustworthy …

Aaron Doughten:
If you can’t trust your monitoring equipment, who can you trust? And that’s the scary part of it. So we’re … we’ve had some, I guess, proverbial guns to our heads, trying to work through those kinds of issues in some cases, but we always come out on top, so that’s good.

Seth VerMulm:
We have thousands of killer stream samples in our library.

Aaron Doughten:
We have quite the library of problem streams. Yeah, for sure.

Seth VerMulm:
That we can throw at every card as it gets designed, tested, new releases, those kinds of things.

Cindy:
And we have another question about NDI and what are your thoughts around NDI or is 2110 the thing to stick with?

Aaron Doughten:
On NDI, from a Sencore perspective, I’ve heard about it, I think we’re aware of it. But in terms of, I think, where our customers are going, there was actually a question that was asked earlier. Is it 2110 or 12G SDI and which ones do you see more often? And the question is, it’s a mix. We literally see both of them, but NDI, not so much. And I’m not sure if that’s just probably the space that we play in. I don’t think it’s as common as a 2110 or an SDI type ask, but it’s definitely something we’re aware of and then always kind of monitoring. And then in the second part of the question, oh yeah. Is your video narrow or dash 21? Yes, it is a hardware implementation, so it is a narrow implementation. Which obviously there are some, I guess, being a transmitter of 2110, it’s not as big of a concern. And anybody that’s done 2110 might be able to back me up here, but being a narrow transmitter isn’t as dangerous as being a narrow receiver because then you can’t receive the widest of signals or the most jittery of signals.

But in our case, at least with the AtlasGear cards, we are a transmitter. And so in the case that we’ve been exposed to so far, we’ve played nice and whatever [inaudible 00:26:27] software defined network or if it’s more of a hardware based one where the timing’s a little tighter, so far we’ve played quite nicely.

Cindy:
Final question for you before we wrap up here, you talked about your digital turnaround and I wondered, since that’s due, is it shipping already in use out in the field or what’s the schedule on that one?

Aaron Doughten:
Oh yeah. Digital turnaround stuff’s been out there. Yeah, definitely. Ready to go.

Cindy:
And the top application for that? For somebody who would want to use digital turnaround.

Aaron Doughten:
Satellite to IP, probably.

Seth VerMulm:
Satellite to IP, or good old fashioned AVSB to IP. Having the redundancy, the stability, and density of the openGear platform will really make it work well.

Aaron Doughten:
Yeah. We have a lot of customers that want to collect regional AVSB signals and back haul them over IP to, there are kind of the big MPLS networks and then provide that regional content. So if Joe Schmo at wherever is tuned to his Direct TV, sorry, big satellite provider, where he wants to be able to watch his regional local channels on their actual satellite lineup, that’s where our products come into play with a lot of that kind of stuff. So very popular application for us to do that kind of local collection or AVSB collection to IP, or ASI.

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