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Grass Valley K2 Debuts at IBC

New media server and client system expected to eventually replace Profile By Charlie White

Grass Valley announced a new product called K2, a media server and media client system that will be featured at this years IBC in Amsterdam. Starting at $35,000, company representatives said the product will be available in the fourth quarter of this year (2005). Expected to eventually replace Grass Valleys widely-used Profile server products, K2 lowers the cost of high speed server networking in a video facility by using common technologies such as Gigabit Ethernet. This cuts prices compared to Profile, which uses more expensive Fibre Channel technology. Grass Valley gave Digital Media Net a sneak preview of K2.

In broadcasters mission-critical environment, theyre looking to avoid the complex problems associated with complicated networks of computers. Theres also a heavy demand for high capacity storage, given the tremendous volume of video thats being created today. In addition, all of this storage must have wide bandwidth and fast transfer rates. Grass Valleys K2 media server and client system claims to be able to solve these problems for broadcasters, because its an IT-based environment that supports file-based workflows. At a starting price of $35,000, Grass Valley brings these features to the broadcast market at a price thats lower than most of its comparable products that have been previously released. The company claims that its K2 line will be priced at a level that halves that of its competitors.

The K2 components revolve around Gigabit Ethernet as a connecting fabric to the other parts of the system, including the K2 media client and editing workstations throughout a facility. Another plus is the ability to connect workstations equipped with Final Cut Pro and third-party applications and access files that reside on the K2 media server. Grass Valley chose Gigabit Ethernet because of its industry-wide acceptance, thus making the materials for constructing such a network more readily available and affordable. Giving the K2 system more speed and better scalability is its use of the faster iSCSI (Internet SCSI) networking protocol running over the top of that Gigabit Ethernet, allowing it to exchange and deliver the high-bandwidth requirements associated with real-time video. 

Ross Summers, Director of Server Marketing at Grass Valley told Digital Media Net, ?With iSCSI, we are able to provide a very deterministic environment for the delivery and access of video and audio assets, and be able to support the bandwidth thats needed to feed codecs, or to feed editors for real-time playout or ingest of material.

Summers also extolled the virtues the K2 servers high level of file transfer capabilities, either through FTP (file transfer protocol) support, or through common Internet file system (CIFS, pronounced ?sifs) support. Using the three access methods, iSCSI, FTP and common Internet file system support, the K2 can serve internal clients with the highest speed iSCSI for very fast transfers, FTP protocol support for high-capacity transfers, and then the Internet file system support, allowing third-party devices and other applications to easily access K2s storage environment.

In this diagram supplied by Grass Valley, you can see how each device in a broadcast facility communicates with the K2 Media Server. Products made by Grass Valley such as the K2 Media Client and the NewsEdit Client communicate with the K2 Media Server via iSCSI. Final Cut Pro users would communicate via FTP or common Internet file system, and third-party apps would communicate via common Internet file system as well. All of these protocols run over Gigabit Ethernet.

Grass Valley said K2 was designed specifically with high-quality video in mind. The company said its new K2 system extends and builds on the capabilities of its popular Profile servers which have been in use for over a decade. Like its Profile brother, K2 is able to manage metadata associated with video and audio assets, and can move them in and out of the system to other devices. Its also well integrated with Profile servers, and it can exchange material back and forth with them via FTP over Gigabit Ethernet. ?Any material recorded on a Profile can be interchanged and exchanged with the K2 client and played out on a K2 client with two exceptions in the HD world it has to do with 4:2:2 versus 4:2:0 material as well as materials above 80Mb. Profile is limited to 80Mb playout, but the K2 can support up to 100Mb, director of server marketing Ross Summers said.

K2 is capable playing different formats back-to-back on the same timeline and channel without regard to how that format was acquired. K2 can also up- and down-convert HD and SD while preserving metadata such as closed captioning. The system is also capable of combining different resolutions and aspect ratios on the same HD playout timeline.

Summers also extolled the virtues of K2s scalability, where tremendous amounts of storage can be attached to the system, with configurations the company said could be well beyond 100TB. Summers also said the system could be configured for shared storage with bandwidth at 100MB to 300MB per second, and it only goes higher from their. ?We can scale from a few hundred megabytes per second all the way up to thousands of megabytes of bandwidth for moving information back and forth to codecs and editors as well is using that bandwidth to move material around the facility and other devices, Summers added. 

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Related Keywords:Grass Valley K2, media server, media client, IBC, Amsterdam, Profile server, Gigabit Ethernet, Fibre Channel technology, Digital Media Net

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