State of HD-SDI in 2013
Editor / Provider: a&s International | Updated: 4/11/2013 | Article type: Tech Corner
Real-life HD-SDI deployments have been scarce, due to practical issues such as component options, truly full HD performance (1,080p at 25 to 30 fps per channel) and pricing acceptability; the relatively high costs of 8- and 16-channel packages have limited uptake by the traditional channels. Things are changing for the better in 2013, however, and this feature looks into what the future holds for this common broadcast technology in security.
HD is an unstoppable trend, thanks to advances in consumer electronics. Security surveillance has been bitten by the same bug; once you go for sharper images, you never go back. Previously, the only way to get better-than-analog surveillance footage was through megapixel cameras and NVRs. Not any more. According to IMS Research, HD over coax products (SDI, SLOC, 960H) are forecast to capture around 5 percent of the video surveillance market revenues by 2016; with the overall worldwide projection at US$20.5 billion, that means a slightly over $1-billion business.
Price has been a chief stumbling block. Choices in deliverable HD-SDI DVRs were limited and at a premium, until late 2012. “The average price for 4-channel HD-SDI DVRs has dropped about 30 percent,” said Danny Tang, VP of Sales and Marketing at Shany Electronic. “As more manufacturers and chip developers, more models are coming out. We are looking forward to the increased competitiveness this year.”
Tony Lin, Manager of EverFocus Electronics, agreed. “We foresee SDI prices coming down to a level on par with high-end traditional analog devices, with a better chance to win over customers looking to upgrade. We believe the improved product availability will hit squarely in the middle of the traditional analog market. This will include any market that hasn't already turned to IP.”
Applications That Could Benefit
Most of the approached industry contacts found it hard to see large-scale HD-SDI deployments, but some saw unique potential. “Our SDI solution is ideal for recording legal proceedings and can be used across multiple courtrooms simultaneously,” said Vanne Lin, Executive VP at iCatch. “Advantages include ease of use, no lag time or frame-rate interruptions, free from bandwidth limitations, stability and reliability, and high image quality.”
Keeping existing analog cabling infrastructure intact is another advantage. “For example, there are quite a few historic sites in Europe, and changing all the wiring to Ethernet might be out of the question,” Tang said. “We already have some European customers asking for HD-SDI solutions. Japan also shows great potential, due to a large analog installed base. To offer customized solutions and meet local needs, we designed features to include power over coaxial and remote control.”
More cost-effective HD-SDI bundles could spark increased deployment in retail. “In the U.S., chips and PIN codes on credit cards never caught on, and they still prefer to sign slips or checks,” said Alan Hayes, founder and MD of AMG Systems. “This slows down payment processing. Currently, there are considerations in terms of introducing ‘touch panel payment solutions' that the customer simply touches their credit card to a pad. [In this case], there may be a requirement for HD for proof of identity solutions.” Dahua Technology targets market segments that require HD but have huge existing coaxial infrastructure, such as banking, gaming and traffic monitoring. “Korea and Japan are leading SDI deployment in the APAC region,” said Xuping Zhong, Product Engineer at Dahua Technology. “Growth in other countries is moderate in verticals such as banking, casinos and city surveillance.”
Gas stations may also benefit from HD-SDI. “Gas stations mostly install only limited or basic surveillance,” said Lin of EverFocus. “We have noted, however, the need for increasing resolution in this sector, especially in self-service areas. Due the fact that gas stations are potentially dangerous environments, we believe that SDI is the perfect solution because it can provide resolution increases over existing coaxial cable.”
Advances in Components
HD-SDI reference designs are now available from Altera, Ambarella, Hisilicon Technologies, Texas Instruments and Xilinx, possibly making overall solutions more price-competitive. Increasing availability of ISPs also means that integrators and installers may need to pay more attention to different combinations and developments of sensors, FPGAs and reference designs, said Alf Chang, Senior Technical Consultant at a&s.
Design and Installation Considerations
The situation for video system designers has improved markedly over the last year with the widespread availability of HDcctv equipment, which makes any installer experienced with regular CCTV equipment already prepared to make the move to HD surveillance, said Todd Rockoff, Executive Director at HDcctv Alliance. “Despite this simplicity, newcomers to HDcctv should be aware of some technical points in interoperability, cable length, storage and integration. The next-generation HDcctv standard is on track for ratification mid-2013, bringing new capabilities and benefits for integrators and installers. The chips soon to be introduced that implement next-generation capabilities of the HDcctv standard promise to further accelerate the migration of security to HD surveillance video.”
Some manufacturers are thinking ahead to offer easy migration or hybrid solutions for installers and end users. For instance, Hi Sharp offers HD-SDI and analog hybrid DVRs so that users can choose the most suitable cameras for different locations.
Shany provides DVRs with 2 channels of SDI and 8 channels of analog, along with embedded management software, to target the SMB market. Tribrid solutions, with IP, are available as well. “We will continue our efforts in easy-to-use remote configuration design and increased transmission distance to cope with the needs of installers,” Tang said. “SDI for nonsecurity applications and SDI speed domes are our R&D focus as well.”
Webgate (a Daemyung Enterprise company) will focus on integration of HD-SDI DVRs and ONVIF compliance to accommodate diverse user needs. “Since our HD-SDI DVR has network connectivity, video from our HD-SDI cameras can be acquired through a DVR or IP encoder,” said Chris Kim, Marketing Manager. “Hybrid products for analog and HD-SDI will lose their merits soon. We are preparing a long-term plan for hybrid products with IP and HD-SDI.”
iCatch concentrates on management software and mobile applications. “We are one of the first to develop 16-channel HD-SDI DVRs with real-time record/playback function in Asia,” Lin at iCatch said. “Users can fully enjoy the bundled CMS feature. In addition, the DVR also supports Windows/Mac OS and app (iOS/Android) platforms, so users are able to keep an eye on what they care about most, regardless of where they are. Users might not care or know whether their surveillance solutions are IP-based or HD-SDI, but they will care whether the surveillance system can be viewed and managed remotely.”