Friday, July 22, 2005

Streaming video system

Reader Al S. requested some details on the streaming video system that I'm testing. I'll have to be very general. The system consists of several parts:

  • A *NIXish server running a custom app which provides the end users with a portal that they can order videos.
  • A managed 10/100 switch with a Gig-E uplink.
  • A server running a *NIX-like OS with a ton of RAID-5 disk space, on which the videos are stored and streamed from. This box has a 10/100 port for management and a Gig-E port through which the videos are streamed.
  • Set top boxes which connect to the TV, and which also have an Ethernet port, where the videos are received. The STBs convert the MPEG-2 video streams from IP data to something TV-compatible.
I'm in the midst of testing the system against our in-room Internet access product we sell to hotels. We need to see how both the video and Internet systems work when large amounts of IP video are sent across our existing setups.

We got everything racked and configured on Wednesday over in Moorestown. Yesterday, I started testing the system against our SMC Ethernet switches. I made good progress but it was slow going. I want to have an STB connected to each port on the SMC, but before I can start a video stream, I need to flash the firmware in the STB. This uses TFTP, gettng the new firmware from the portal server, and takes about 15 minutes per box for it to download and apply the firmware, then reboot. This is taking longer than I'd hoped.

I'd planned to return today to finish the SMC part of my eval, but Judith came down with some kind of respiratory infection so I had to stay home with the kids, who aren't in daycare during the summer. I'll go back Monday.

1 comment:

Al Sande said...

Thanks for the information, Dave...

Hey, I'm back! I've been "sans Internet" for the past couple of weeks (ugh!) as I've been caught in the middle of the Telus labour dispute - and of course my ADSL connection had the presense of mind to die completely as the result of a botched service call two days before the job action.

Anyway, I no longer have ADSL, but now have a cable modem that is significantly (3x) faster...

The storage requirements must be pretty nasty for this. I'm streaming MPEG2 video around my house on a 100 meg connection which works reasonably well, but I can only manage lower resolution feeds on the 802.11g connection to the computer in my entertainment room... The DVD-quality feeds choke it off and make the actors "do the jerk". Probably similar to your system when a lot of traffic goes across it.

BTW, I'm probably sitting with about a terrabyte of disk space here - with about half of that space used for video storage (mostly low resolution MPEG2 and MPEG1) and the other half for work-in-progress video editing projects.