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Next Gen

Crestron Offers More than HDMI Over Cat-5e with Digital Media 8G+

Quick Bio

COMPANY: Crestron
OBJECTIVE: To create a solution to transmit uncompressed, content protected, HD digital video long-distance over a single wire.

The seeds of Crestron DigitalMedia were planted several years ago. That’s when Crestron engineers began building on an ambitious vision to create a solution to transmit uncompressed, content protected, HD digital video long-distance over a single wire that could be run through walls and conduit and terminated in the field.

Actually, that was only a part of the vision. The original goal was to transmit any mix of analog and digital AV signals, high-speed ethernet to support streaming media, and IR/ Serial control up to 100 meters using standard Cat-5e cable. For longer distances, a fiber solution would be developed.

During the R&D process, HDMI proved to be more multi-layered and sophisticated than originally anticipated. In addition to the audio and video signals carried on HDMI and DisplayPort, Crestron engineers had to manage several other signal paths and data streams, including HDCP content protection, CEC device control, and EDID resolution management.

Crestron’s everexpanding DigitalMedia product line includes the DM-MD 8x8, 16x16, and 32x32 matrix switchers.

After years of research and engineering, which included developing new software and equipment for testing and diagnostics, Crestron DigitalMedia was introduced. The first version of DM was able to transmit uncompressed HD digital signals combined with analog AV signals, data, control and high-speed ethernet on a single wire. The original DM solution used chipsets from five different vendors, and while using a single jacketed cable, required three separate terminated wires.

Crestron engineers continued to work to achieve their ultimate goal of a standard UTP solution for uncompressed HD digital AV. About this time, a technology company named Valens Semiconductor approached Crestron with the idea of a new chipset that would transmit full uncompressed HD video over standard Cat-5e.

Many months later, Valens delivered its very first chip. The chipset was successful in reducing the cabling requirements from three wires to just one, but still required an engineered, shielded twisted pair wire to guarantee reliable performance. DigitalMedia 8G was born, and Crestron was one step closer to realizing its vision.

Valens and Crestron engineers collaborated to refine the technology and deliver a true UTP solution for full 1080p HDMI.

Crestron is now introducing its third generation technology, DigitalMedia 8G+, which enables transmission of uncompressed 1080p/60 digital video up to 330 feet using standard unshielded Cat-5e wire.

The latest chipset is just the foundation on which Crestron DigitalMedia is built. DigitalMedia is a complete, modular singleplatform solution. Crestron DigitalMedia distributes all analog and digital audio and video signals, plus Gigabit ethernet, US B and control—not just HDMI—all through a single matrix (rather than a several independent switchers that require transcoding) over a single wire. DigitalMedia switches any signal to any and all displays without compression, manages all the HDCP, EDID, and CEC automatically, and provides the software tools necessary for installation and troubleshooting.

Fred Bargetzi is vice president of technology for Crestron.