Today’s video cards can perform a wide range of powerful AV magic, as Datapath’s Mark Rogers explains
Derby-based manufacturer Datapath have led the way with video graphics card for more than 35 years. Now a multi award-winning manufacturer of video wall processors, control software and video control, the company remains at the forefront of capture card and video transfer technology.
With 4K resolution, high frame rates and multi-end points now being the status quo, video hardware now has to provide the power and the glory to deliver seamless video, whatever the demands.
Today’s multi-screen projects and high-end control rooms all require bespoke solutions to best suit their needs. Here, product manager Mark Rogers gives a snap-shot of each of the various types of video cards available and explains what they bring to the AV mix.
As the name suggests, these cards provide the power to capture, duplicate and scale images. Used for video walls and monitoring multiple images, today’s capture cards need to provide the power to deal with today’s large data packets. Captured frames can be scaled up or down within a 4K x 4K range using a high quality polyphase filter.
The scaling process reduces overall Direct Memory Access (DMA) bandwidth by ensuring any downscaling is performed on the capture card before data is transferred to the destination, keeping latency low and reducing the workload for the graphics card.
MultiStream technology on today’s capture cards allows independent control of up to 16 instances of a capture from a single input source. Each client can have independent capture size (scale factor), frame rate, pixel depth, DMA destination and cropping rectangle. This technology allows users to live preview a source whilst capturing or streaming additional copies with different requirements, all without using the CPU or GPU.
Anyone who deals with modern video systems knows too well the issues that can arise with EDID. There are so many different video sources out there, all with different capabilities, and we know EDID can be a nightmare for integrators. That is why these cards handle almost any video type and mode, whether standard or non-standard, and they allow full EDID manipulation via a user-friendly interface. In essence, they can handle anything thrown at them.
For us, the entire card is built with two key objectives – power and reliability. Whether it’s 24/7 mission critical, medical or in a live concert, users need the peace-of-mind that their video capture is rock solid and will be the next time you need it.
The gaming sector has seen this technology constantly develop over the past 20 years. Today’s GUIs and graphic-heavy software has seen constantly developing specifications to meet commercial sector demands. Essentially, the purpose of a graphics card is to take responsibility for the graphics display duties of a system – delivering smooth, high quality visuals while removing load on the system’s main CPU. Datapath’s Image DP4+ card, for example, utilises its own highly engineered performance display driver which squeezes the absolute maximum out of a relatively low powered GPU. This means more outputs can be used in parallel whilst maintaining the performance needed for larger systems – all without the huge energy bill and thermal management requirements required by standard gaming grade GPUs.
Mark Rogers explains: “It’s all about power management and getting live and secured video content onto the screens in a scalable way. As resolution and live source continues to increase, the demand on the GPU responsible for the display follows. Sure, you can do quite a lot with one or two off-the-shelf graphics cards from the main players, but there’s a limit to how much data you can throw at these GPU’s without hitting the system bottleneck. There’s also a significant limit to the number of screens that can be supported under Windows 10 – a problem that, to date, only we have solved.”
This unique software is built from the ground up to provide system scalability, security and total reliability. The data throughput users can achieve is also unmatched, because Datapath boast the best video capture technology in the world, which is designed to work in complete harmony with their graphics. The end result is that customers find Datapath to be the only solution for large scale video walls running Windows 10, which offers the application flexibility that users need.
SQX is a Datapath term used for their latest cards for streaming and compressing video to multiple outputs. At the heart of SQX is the ability to take video and encode it for streaming or remote storage and to decode compressed data for use on a video wall or monitor. The Datapath SQX technology portfolio offers series of products that can either work alone or as part of a much wider system to manage a vast amount of video in ways customers require.
“Not everything these days requires physical capture of baseband video,” adds Mark. “IP stream security across multiple network domains is slowly improving, and so as customers gain confidence in it and wish to move towards a more fully IP centric realm, we are building on our SQX technology for scalable IP stream management.”
He adds: “ActiveSQX is a high density H.264 decoding card which allows users to bring in as many remote streams as they can imagine. Customers often dream up some big numbers, real big numbers in fact, and we can still support them. Each card can deliver up to 12 x HD main profile AVC streams using RTSP into the video wall controller, and customers can have as many of these cards as they have available slots in their multi-chassis expansion system to meet their needs.”
Depending on system requirements, these cards can be mixed and matched to satisfy any requirement, from a single medium-sized video wall to a large Command & Control operation with numerous displays.