Omneon: Products > Spectrum

By: Omneon  09-12-2011
Keywords: Storage, Video Production, high definition

The industry-leading Omneon Spectrum media server offers broadcasters and video production facilities unparalleled reliability, flexibility and efficiency in the deployment of file-based workflows. Architected as a modular system, Spectrum can be configured with just a few channels and entry-level storage, or with many dozens of channels and storage for hundreds of hours of content. With support for a wide variety of SD and HD formats and numerous industry standards, a Spectrum system can be easily adapted over time as customer needs change and grow.


  • Independently scale channels, storage, bandwidth and redundancy in smart, cost-effective increments
  • Support new services such as High Definition and 3D by simply adding new components to an existing system, ensuring complete investment protection
  • Implement best-of-breed solutions for transmission, studio production, news and sports highlights and distributed broadcast workflows
  • Freedom to choose from hundreds of applications, enabled by the broadest application support built around open standards and APIs

Spectrum Modular Architecture

The Omneon Spectrum media server system has a modular architecture that allows for maximum configuration flexibility and adaptability to future changes. Every system can be precisely tailored to each customer's unique requirements, and new channels, storage or even system bandwidth can be added at any time as a customer's needs change. Because major elements of a Spectrum system are contained within discrete components that are independent of each other, reliability and fault tolerance are maximized. In the unlikely event of a failure of one component, the rest of the system can continue to operate uninterrupted.

Smart Scalability™

Because of the Spectrum server's unique modular architecture, adding storage or channels is as simple as plugging in a new component. Omneon Spectrum media servers are designed with Smart Scalability, ensuring that the investment is always protected. Virtually every function of the system is independently scalable; meaning that the system can grow in smart, manageable increments as needs change. Users can easily add to an original system as new data, audio and video formats become available. In many cases, these upgrades and additions can be performed on a system without taking it off the air.

Flexibility to Fit Any Workflow

As the industry's leading media server platform, Spectrum has been deployed in hundreds of broadcast facilities worldwide, taking advantage of its inherent ability to support virtually any broadcast workflow:

  • Transmission, live studio production and news production workflows
  • Small facilities requiring just a few channels and simultaneous support for multiple applications
  • The largest transmission and production environments with dedicated ingest and playout infrastructures

Media Processing Performance

The Spectrum system is designed to streamline workflows by providing the broadest support for multiple video formats and file wrappers. Because of the modular architecture of Spectrum, users can choose exactly the components that match their requirements, rather than having to adjust to a limited selection of video formats. Spectrum also provides a wide range of powerful media processing functions needed across many different types of facilities:

  • Back-to-back playback of clips of different formats
  • Playback of SD and HD clips on the same timeline
  • Integrated up/down conversion
  • Simultaneous proxy creation during recording
  • Up to 16 channels of embedded audio per video clip, and API-based track manipulation for multilanguage applications
  • Aspect ratio signaling to downstream equipment
  • Full VBI and VANC support

Platform flexibility also extends to the applications used to drive broadcast operations. The Spectrum media server system uses industry-standard media wrappers (including QuickTime and MXF) as well as open networking protocols (including FTP, AFP and CIFS) to enable direct access to content by any file-based media application. Combined, these features give broadcasters the freedom to choose from the widest range of best-of-breed applications for an end-to-end solution.

Rock-Solid Reliability

Media servers are complex, and have a huge number of both moving and non-moving parts—all of which can potentially fail. The measure of reliability for a media server is not how rarely a component fails, but rather what happens to the overall system when a component does fail. Omneon Spectrum media server systems are designed specifically to eliminate all single points of failure and isolate potential failure points so that a failure of one component does not disrupt operations across the rest of the system:

  • Disconnection of a media I/O module causes only that unit to stop operating until replaced or reconnected, while no other component in the system is affected.
  • In a system constructed with multiple MediaDirector system control units, the failure of one control unit does not disrupt file system access by all other system control units.
  • Redundant fibre channel cabling to the disk storage arrays ensures continuous operations even in the event of a broken or removed fibre channel cable.
  • Failure of a disk drive does not result in loss of content or even a dropped frame; and with software-based smart data rebuild procedures, the exposure to a second failure is significantly reduced compared to hardware-based RAID systems.

The isolation of component failures to minimize overall system impact is a key architectural advantage of the Omneon Spectrum system. It lowers the risk of a catastrophic failure, since the impact of a component's failure is limited to only a portion of the system, and failed components can be quickly replaced while the system remains operational.

MediaDirector System Controllers

MediaDirector is the core of the Spectrum system, actively managing the flow of data to and from other Spectrum components such as MediaStore storage arrays and MediaPort media interface modules. MediaDirectors provide the necessary processing power and interface connections needed to support a wide range of configurations and workflows. Each MediaDirector contains processing power that can be dedicated to either real-time or IP packet processing, as well as a number of interfaces, including:

  • High-speed ports for connectivity to media I/O modules
  • Fibre Channel interfaces for connectivity to storage arrays
  • Gigabit Ethernet ports for connectivity to external networked devices over FTP, AFP or CIFS

Multiple MediaDirector units can be linked together while still sharing a common file system to create massive scalability of channels, IP bandwidth or both. MediaDirectors, individually and as a cluster, strictly manage overall system bandwidth to ensure uninterrupted real-time operations, even under heavy IP file transfer loads. MediaDirectors are designed with a flash-based real-time OS for fast start-up and diskless operation, eliminating the risk of a system disk failure. MediaDirectors use software RAID file system management to recover data more efficiently in the event of a disk drive failure. To ensure system resiliency and maximum reliability, all MediaDirectors have redundant power supplies and cooling fans for uninterrupted operation.

MediaCenter System Controllers with Integrated Storage

The MediaCenter is a multi-channel controller for Spectrum media servers that combines integrated storage with MediaPort connectivity to deliver moderate channel counts and flexibility at an exceptional value. MediaCenter supports up to 16 TB of storage, up to three fully-populated external MediaPort I/O devices for four to twelve channels of multi-format record and play, and all Spectrum compatible software applications. Like all Spectrum family products, MediaCenter provides the highest degree of reliability and serviceability through redundant and hot-swappable components, such as power supplies and disk drives.

MediaStore Storage Arrays

MediaStores provide scalable, reliable and high-performance disk-based shared storage for all content stored in a Spectrum system. MediaStore storage arrays contain up to 16 high-performance Fibre Channel disk drives with several disk capacity options that allow broadcasters to tailor a system to their needs. Since all disk subsystem management is provided in software by MediaDirectors, including all file system and RAID information, there is no hardware controller required, so disk drives can be arranged in a simple Switched Bunch of Disks (SBOD) configuration. Advanced pre-failure storage diagnostics allow operators to proactively replace drives before critical errors might occur. User configurable alerts and notifications further enable administrators to maintain and manage MediaStore storage systems. Independent and redundant hot-swappable power supplies with automatic failover, hot-swappable disk drives, hot spares and integrated fans all combine to offer the highest level of hardware resiliency.

MediaStores support up to 7 Terabytes of usable capacity in a single 16-disk array when equipped with 600 GB drives. One to twenty four arrays may be linked in a single Spectrum system, creating a shared pool of storage as large as 168 TB. Configurations with 300 GB and 450 GB drives are also supported. Storage capacity can be added at any time without disrupting on-air operations. Deterministic Fibre Channel connectivity between MediaStores and MediaDirectors ensures the guaranteed bandwidth required for real-time media operations.

MediaPort Input/Output Modules

Like all media servers, Spectrum systems include encode and decode components for real-time ingest and playout of content. What distinguishes the Spectrum system is the ability to attach these media interface components in smart, manageable increments so that systems can be configured to exact requirements for channel count and video compression formats. When expansion is needed, additional MediaPorts can be added without taking down the system. MediaPorts for different media formats can be combined within a single system, including support for both SD and HD at the same time. MediaPorts accurately capture and replay all information—including VBI and VANC data—contained in a video data stream with real-time conversion of video, audio and timecode into file information for storage on an Omneon Spectrum server system. MediaPorts support up to sixteen channels of embedded audio, easing the transition or expansion into multilanguage broadcasting.

MediaPorts support a broad range of formats, channel counts and record/play capabilities. The 4000 and 5000 series are pre-configured for certain format and channel combinations. The flexible MediaPort 7000 series offers a wide range of features and formats through modules to create a Spectrum system that supports both current and future requirements. Up to two modules fit in a MediaPort 7000 chassis. You can choose either the 7100, supporting DV and MPEG-2 SD and HD functionality, or the 7600, supporting DV, MPEG-2 and AVC-Intra. Each product is offered in a variety of configurations; see the table below for the full range of MediaPort 7000 offerings.

MediaPort Options
Product ID Max # of Video Channels SD HD Proxy DV record/
MPEG-2 AVC-Intra Up/Down Conversion HD
Cross Conversion
Audio/Vid. Ch.
Record Play Record Play
MIP-7100-DVS 4 in or out
(2 Modules)
X     X             16/0
MIP-7100-M2S 4 in or out
(2 Modules)
X         X         16/0
MIP-7100-DMS 4 in or out
(2 Modules)
X     X   X         16/0
MIP-7300-DMS 4 in or out
(2 Modules)
X     X X X         16/0
MIP-7100-DVH 4 in or out
(2 Modules)
X X   X         X X 16/0
MIP-7100-M2H 4 in or out
(2 Modules)
X X       X     X X 16/0
MIP-7100-DMH 4 in or out
(2 Modules)
X X   X   X     X X 16/0
MIP-7101-DMH 4 in or out
(2 Modules)
X X X X   X     X X 16/0
MIP-7600-UVP 4 in or out
(2 Modules)
X X   X   X   X X X 16/0
MIP-7600-APR 4 in or out
(2 Modules)
X X   X   X X X X X 16/0
MIP-7601-APR 4 in or out
(2 Modules)
X X X X   X X X X X 16/0
MIP-7300-M2H 4 in or out
(2 Modules)
X X     X X     X X 16/0
MIP-7301-M2H 4 in or out
(2 Modules)
X X X   X X     X X 16/0
MIP-7300-DMH 4 in or out
(2 Modules)
X X   X X X     X X 16/0
MIP-7301-DMH 4 in or out
(2 Modules)
X X X X X X     X X 16/0

SystemManager Configuration and Management Platform

Omneon SystemManager handles system management functions for all Omneon hardware platforms and application servers, including the Spectrum media server. Providing a Web-based interface, with easy-to-navigate screens, SystemManager supports system configuration, network connectivity, security, fault monitoring and performance management. SystemManager also manages the configuration of external control protocols such as VDCP and native Omneon API functions.

Keywords: Broadcast Facilities, high definition, Live Studio, Media Server, media servers, news production, Spectrum, Storage, Studio Production, Video Formats, Video Production,

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