The video broadcast market is a niche market with multiple complexities and particularities. Two common examples are pathological data encoding schemes and 75V coaxial cable. The following article relates the evolution of pluggable modules in telecommunication and their migration into the broadcast market. The article will cover the various types of modules, the pros and cons of these components, and the introduction of new pluggable technologies in the broadcast space: the video SFP and the emSFP.
Pluggables in the telecommunication market
The main reason behind the pluggable is simple. Historically, systems designers had to choose between fixed copper ports or fixed optical ports for physical I/O applications. Each designer struggled with the decision of how many copper and how many optical (single-mode or multimode) ports were needed to support LAN, WAN and the new SAN markets.
This might sound familiar for equipment designers, users and integrators as we are faced with these decisions more often than not. This dilemma was present in the 1990s for telecommunications systems until fiber physical connections became dominant. However, the challenge is still present for broadcasters today. Coaxial cable is still the dominant physical layer connection, but fiber and twisted pair streaming mediums are supported in almost every new system deployment.
Therefore the question arises: How can a designer/manufacturer/integrator create a uniform platform supporting multiple physical mediums?
Telecom OEMs responded to this request by creating the pluggable form factor, starting with the GBIC and migrating to the SFP, Xenpak, XGP, XPAK, X2, XFP, SFP+, etc. (See Figure 1.) With the convergence of telecom and media industries, particularly in the past five years, the expertise and experience of telecom has been quickly adopted in the broadcast sector with the SFP and now the emSFP.