What’s Trending in KVM World?

  • With David Kirk

What’s Trending in KVM World?

Contributing Editor David Kirk examines the latest developments in the world of KVM technology...

KVMs, the abbreviated form of keyboard, video and mouse, may not be the most exciting area of broadcast media technology but they continue to be among the most useful. The idea of accessing multiple computers and monitors from a single keyboard and pointing device dates back to the mid 1990s. The KVM concept remains popular in broadcast production galleries, newsrooms, MCRs, post production suites and accounts offices. This article looks at the latest developments from some of the leading KVM product suppliers. Significant trends include greater device compatibility (16 computers from a single KVM in one example), closer IP integration and increasingly versatile multiview tools. Whether head-up displays will ever make any progress in these applications depends more on operators' preference than technology.

Adder Technology's new ADDERLink® INFINITY 2124T extender delivers dual head video, audio, and USB2.0 over a 1GbE IP network. HDMI connectivity brings additional flexibility. "HDMI and DisplayPort technology dominate the PC market," comments John Halksworth, Adder's Senior Product Manager. "Introducing a dual head HDMI KVM extender means our customers no longer need unreliable and expensive converters and cables. Adder's matrix capability enables faster and smoother deployment of an AV-over-IP distribution network for example, supporting high quality video wall and digital signage implementations." Features of the ALIF2124T include two SFP ports for use with either CATx or fibre modules, USB mass storage support, video resolutions up to single 2560×1600 @ 60 Hz or dual 1920×1200 @ 60Hz, intelligent EDID management, full network redundancy support and USB 2.0 with class control.

Apantac offers various KVM over IP products with features such as VGA, DVI, HDMI, DP++ input/output support, resolutions up to 4K/30, power-over-Ethernet, single or dual transmit or receive in a single module, as well as IP transport over copper or fibre. Users can extend and/or switch video, keyboard and mouse functions, USB 2.0, embedded and analogue audio, RS-232 and infra-red. The receivers can be set for scaling incoming video up or down and allow the console monitor to see the same resolution, whatever the source computer resolution. The receivers (one monitor per receiver) also allow users to feed video walls of up to 8×8 displays. Computers with up to four heads can be accommodated in a system. USB 2.0 devices such as touch screens, tablets or USB drives are also supported. Each Tx and Rx module is autonomous and has a configuration web page, so no extra server is required to run a matrix. A 'free flow' license is available to allow an operator to control up to four consoles from a single keyboard and mouse by moving the mouse pointer across the console monitors. "We also offer a KVM over IP transmitter card for the openGear platform as an alternative to using standalone transmission boxes for each computer source in a technical operations room," adds Apantac's president, Thomas Tang. "Up to 10 OG-KVM-IP-Tx cards can be mounted in a single openGear chassis with redundant power supplies."

Argosy recently teamed with Guntermann & Drunck to help support content management companies, studios, OB service providers and postproduction houses requiring greater bandwidth. "Broadcasters are processing ever increasing amounts of content and media files over longer distances," explains Argosy Director Chris Smeeton. "With a rise in the use in software-controlled systems, broadcast operations desks are becoming overloaded with multiple computer terminals and KVM is the ideal solution. G&D caters to the growing complexity of KVM applications by providing a smaller solution with a large selection of powerful features. Over the last few months, G&D has been developing its VisionXS product series. These matrix-compatible high-performance KVM extenders support resolutions up to 4K @ 60 Hz. The systems are available for both KVM-over-IP and classic, direct transmission. In addition to the already available DP-UHR variants for resolutions up to 4096×2160 @ 60 Hz, the product range is now complemented by the new DP-HR variants for resolutions up to 2560×1600 @ 60 Hz. This series uses lossless video compression which enables an authentic, pixel-perfect video experience. All VisionXS series modules are compact and have slide-in elements allowing easy installation. The VisionXS-DP-HR variants will also be available with two display port connectors for multi-monitor applications. Using a single transmission port, two monitors can be operated simultaneously, saving cabling effort and additional hardware. The new option also ensures improved ergonomics and greater flexibility at workstations. New variants of G&D’s VisionXS-IP series are also available, supporting PoE. Power can now be supplied to the device using the transmission port. This reduces the planning and installation effort and doubly secures the extender against failures, connecting via both the main power supply and the network cable."

Black Box's Emerald DeskVue allows users to interact with up to 16 different systems simultaneously via one keyboard and mouse.

"DeskVue is a KVM reimagined and meets users' requirements to consume and interact with multiple systems and information sources simultaneously, from physical computers to virtual machines and video streams," says Tom Fitzgerald, Black Box KVM Product Manager. "Instead of spending 40 to 50 percent of their time switching between systems and monitoring task completion, users can interact with each system by moving the mouse onto a desired window and clicking. Configurable audio alerts ensure that connected machines continue to run and the next task is started once the previous one finishes. The device's small footprint (168×115×37.4 mm), combined with various mounting options, maximizes the user’s available desk space." DeskVue offers a personalized workspace where each of these systems can be placed and sized on up to three HDMI 2.0 monitors and one DisplayPort 1.2 monitor via USB-C with resolutions up to 5120×1440 and support for curved monitors. The user can customise the placement and size of individual screens to maximize work efficiency. DeskVue fully integrates with Black Box's Emerald Unified KVM and the Boxilla KVM manager for device configuration, monitoring, and authentication. It can connect to both physical systems through Emerald transmitter decoding and virtual machines using RDP, PCOIP (Ultra), H.264/H.265, and VNC. It incorporates an Intel 11th Generation i7 processor.

IHSE's Draco CON App KVM software can be used to access an IHSE KVM network via IP protocol from a standard network-connected PC. "KVM matrix systems are hardware-based networks for the interconnection of keyboard, video and mouse signals, says Mark Hempel, Head of Product Management at IHSE GmbH. "Usually, a system like this consists of several specialised encoding and decoding units connected via a central matrix and a dedicated network. This enables high performance signal distribution in real-time. Draco CON App software emulates the functions of a physical IHSE CON decoder. Users only need an IP connection with sufficient bandwidth (at least 1 Gbps), low latency and a suitable device like a capable laptop or desktop PC to access a regular KVM network in real time. The main goal of the Draco CON App is to provide the most flexible access to KVM connected devices as simply as possible. To achieve that it uses existing IT infrastructure such as active network components like switches, routers. This enables simple and flexible installations and additions to a proprietary KVM system without sacrificing the secure core. A major benefit is that customers of IHSE's proprietary KVM solutions can flexibly expand their system with IP based components. The serviceability, safety and reliability of an IHSE KVM system are maintained while at the same time the flexibility and simplicity of the transmission protocol over-IP are incorporated into the system. The Draco CON App offers a maximum of flexibility for existing as well as new customers and works with Apple MacOS, Linux and Microsoft Windows."

IHSE's Draco tera IP Gateway provides IHSE KVM users with the ability to bridge multiple KVM matrices over existing IP networks within buildings, across campuses and between remote corporate offices. "It combines the high levels of security and performance of the Draco tera KVM system with the flexibility and ease of connectivity inherent in IP-based network communication," says CEO Enno Littmann. "Secure Core technology prevents direct access to the data within the KVM system from the IP network. This maintains the integrity of the KVM system and is consistent with the IHSE philosophy of secure separation of core matrix and IP networks as an effective countermeasure to potential cyber attacks. Draco tera IP Gateway combines the best of both worlds. Allowing secure, IP-routable site networking of KVM matrix systems without compromising operational flexibility, security or maintainability. It currently supports up to eight bidirectional grid lines for bidirectional KVM operation with video resolutions of up to 4k30 with a view to be expanded to 4k60 in the near future. The solution addresses existing customers as well as new customers, allowing them easy expansion or flexible new installation of an IHSE KVM system. Draco tera IP Gateway delivers two significant advantages: flexible, secure matrix interconnectivity and the ability for users to access any end computer on the KVM system from any remote IP workplace within an existing gigabit network."

Matrox Extio 3 IP KVM extenders are designed to facilitate remote access and connectivity for distributed teams and personnel in broadcast environments by delivering secure, low bitrate, and glitch-free 4Kp60 4:4:4 and up to quad 1080p60 4:4:4 video extension and switching support over LAN, WAN, or internet. "IP KVM extenders play an essential role in enabling broadcasters to employ a wider range of remote operations, a work mode that allows operators to work from various locations while controlling the same broadcast equipment," says Caroline Injoyan, Business Development Manager, Matrox Video. "Compatible with 1 GbE networks, Extio 3 IP KVM extenders create scalable and cost-effective KVM matrix switching environments using standard networking equipment and infrastructures. Users can readily access any workstation from any remote user station. Extio 3's Tile View multiview feature also supports aggregated and seamless control of up to four systems on one Full HD or 4K display using a single keyboard and mouse. Safety features include audio, video, USB signal encryption; user authentication management; and an IPSec VPN client in the Extio 3 receiver. When deploying KVM-over-IP workflows, be sure to select an IP KVM extender solution that best matches your broadcast environment’s video resolution/quality, multi-display workspace, remote connectivity, and network security requirements."

Worldcast's SureStream uses multiple paths to eliminate the need to install dedicated network infrastructure for remote KVM systems. "SureStream has already been proven in thousands of broadcast implementations and is now being upgraded for a wide new range of mission-critical applications," comments Ken Kearney, R&D Manager for Worldcast's APT and SureStream product ranges.

"It is designed to use the path with lowest network latency in real-time to ensure highest quality of experience and perfect mouse performance. By prioritising keyboard and mouse traffic and routing multiple streams across divergent network paths, it provides a higher level of confidence in packet delivery. On the receiver end, an advanced resequencing processor produces a seamless reconstructed IP flow. The 'always-on' redundancy provides the ideal solution for highly reliable real-time links over any type of packetized network."