All posts by Dawn Mangine

Reliable Pro Switching System for Control Rooms

In a control-room, mission critical application, security, reliability, and network availability are three fundamental concepts that network administrators strive relentlessly to deliver. The switch between systems is just as important as the information technology systems themselves. Black Box partnered with a prime government contractor to install secure, stable hardware switching systems in up to 150 locations. The switches add real power to the physical layer of the network, where they control access and provide nearly instantaneous backup and immediately available switching systems.

To ensure 24/7 uptime, users run two separate and fully redundant automation systems in parallel. In order for the two separate automation systems to provide instantaneous back-up to users, the switching system in between them needs to be reliable, secure, and available to an IP network for remote access. Enter the Pro Switching System of intelligent Layer 1 A/B gang switching.

Because of the way the Pro Switching System works, it is an incredibly reliable switching system. Since it only looks at physical connections, it avoids misconfigured network protocols and has no firmware or software to manage. Additionally, air-gap isolation of the system ensures secure network connections for high-security applications.

Pro Switching systems are the superior choice for network access control and backup switches, providing ultra-reliable, hardware driven security. Capable of supporting more than 4,000 network users, Pro Switching Systems ensure a controlled access environment using rugged and precise mechanical and optical movements that deliver the unequaled reliability of hardware. System administration is simplified and fast for easy monitoring of individual users with automatic shut-off control when tampering is detected.

KVM Matrix Extension System Supports 4K60 Over a Single Cable

Extend 4K resolutions at 60Hz over a single fibre cable in a point-to point extension or multipoint-to-multipoint matrix configuration for the highest onscreen resolutions in post-production suites. DKM FX 4K60 Interface Cards support 4K60 in full, 8-bit color depth.

More production suites are deploying 4K monitors for viewing, live production, and post production. For example, the Black Box DKM solution is being deployed at fileCAST Media GmbH. The manufacturer of the new LiveLogging solution for its Online Media Library (OML) platform is using Black Box technology to extend signals and connect to live production multi-feed environments. The purpose is to tag media content from multiple sources during a live event. This will enable content owners to offer valuable media assets in a searchable format in near real time.

4K in post-production editing suites will enhance an editor’s ability to see how the finished product will appear. 4K extension at 60 Hz has been challenging in the past because 4K requires higher bandwidth. The DKM FX 4K60 cards can overcome this challenge because the system also uses high-speed interface cards to support high-bandwidth signals. In addition, control surfaces for post-production editing that use high-speed USB, such as DiVinci Resolve, can be deployed using these interface cards.

The DKM FX system is flexible, scalable, and highly reliable. Video standards supported by interface cards in the modular housing include DVI-D up to 2560 x 1600; HDMI up to 2560 x 1440; and DisplayPort 1.2 (4:4:4) resolutions up to 4K.

The DKM FX Modular Housing frames come in 2-, 4-, or 6-slot chassis with optional redundant power. The 21-slot frame is 1U for rackmounting in a server room or machine room. Fibre cable supports distances up 1000 metres over multimode fibre or 10 kilometres over single-mode fibre, which means editing and post-production suites can be in different buildings in a large enterprise solution.

For more information, call our application engineers at 00800-2255 2269 or use our online DKM configurator to plan your high-performance KVM extensions system.

Related Links:
Black Box Whitepaper: 4K video – piecing together the puzzle

Top 10 Products from Black Box for 2015

Taking a look back at 2015, it’s clear that Black Box provides end-to-end infrastructure, professional AV technology, and networking solutions. The variety of products that made our Top Products’ list is representative of many different walks of IT and AV. Let’s take a look at our best sellers from 2015, and how they fit your applications.

1. IP-Based KVM Switching and Extension

Transmit DVI, USB, and audio signals in real time over an Ethernet LAN with the Agility IP-Based KVM Switching and Extension System. Standard CATx cabling delivers IP traffic via the Agility transmitters and receivers up to 100 m. For longer distances, add a network switch, which will give you an additional 100 metres.

With the Agility Controller Unit turn your IP-based Agility system of transmitters and receivers into a managed matrix switching system with this component at its center directing traffic over your LAN.

For more information, visit our Solutions pages.

2. MediaCento IPX Solution
Distribute digital video signals, including HDMI, over IP to multiple screens. This system is big in hospitality, retail, and other applications where you need to share video. Lossless HD video means crystal-clear images on every display. Check out this digital solution for the future, which comes at an analog price.

MediaCento IPX Receiver
MediaCento IPX Receiver

The MediaCento IPX solution integrates easily into your local area network. Transmit HDMI video and audio over an Ethernet network to a virtually unlimited number of screens as far as your network reaches. The MediaCento Controller adds many features to the solution, including flexible control of video walls, up to 8 x 8. In addition, the LPB2900 Series Gigabit Ethernet Managed PoE+ Switches can be outfitted with the MediaCento Controller software for HD video extension and switching. It’s the market’s first network switch that enables users to remotely control and switch AV from any source to any display. Three switches plus the software is available at Black Box.

3. GigaTrue™ CAT6 550-MHz Bulk Cable and GigaBase™ 350 CAT5e Solid Bulk Cable
ETL-Verified. HDBaseT recommended. Reliable performance. Guaranteed for life. When it comes to cabling, Black Box doesn’t fool around. Our bulk copper cabling integrates into new building projects whether you’re expanding or starting from the ground up.

All cabling solutions offer performance designed to last the lifetime of your system, whether in the data center or at the desktop — or beyond. Visit our CATx cable selector or our cabling home page for more choices.

4. Media Converters enable you to connect to different types of media within a network. To find the right media converter for your application, visit our media converter selector.

For example, look at the Multipower Miniature Media Converters. The autosensing MDI/MDI-X copper ports of these small converters means you don’t need to worry about what kind of cable to use. Easily migrate networks from Ethernet to Fast Ethernet all the way to Gigabit Ethernet. Compact in size, and still supports distances up to 10 kilometres.

5. KVM Extenders

Extend digital video signals and USB functionality over CATx or fibre cabling in order to streamline workflow, improve operator efficiency, and benefit from reliable signal distribution without interruption.

KVM extenders that support digital signals enable you to reduce noise and heat in the workplace, which improves productivity. Secure your hardware and secure your data by backracking vital workstations. A few examples are the ACX300/310 Series KVM Extenders, Wizard SRX DVI Extender for USB, and the Dual-Head DisplayPort KVM Extender over CATx. Digital signals are higher in quality, interconnectivity is more reliable, and the technology is future proof in regards to connected devices. Remain competitive by integrating KVM solutions across the enterprise.

To choose the right KVM extenders for your application, visit our KVM extender selector, or call one of our tech experts at 00800-CALLBBOX (00800-2255 2269).

6. Video and multimedia extenders enable you to distribute audio and video signals for digital signage, enhance presentations, and extend video beyond the boardroom. With Black Box video extenders, you can send video and audio signals farther than with conventional cabling. Deliver pixel-perfect video and high quality audio to remote displays.

Mini CATxVGA Extender Kit
Mini CATxVGA Extender Kit
Multi DVI-D CATx Extender Receiver
Multi DVI-D CATx Extender Receiver
3D HDMI CATx Extender
3D HDMI CATx Extender

7. Copper Patch Cables, 3-Series Lockable Patch Cables
Our high standards shine through with our 3-Series patch cables. These CAT5e/6/6A cables give you three levels of security, depending on the optional locking pin you choose. Secure your network ports, but only when you need to. Guaranteed for life!

These cables offer easy Layer 1 security for many environments, including healthcare, education, finance, government, retail, transportation, and more. Choose from locked (Red), secure (Green), or protected (no pin) to get the level of security that suits your application best.

8. Console Servers

Ensure maximum uptime with out-of-band management console servers, sometimes called terminal servers. They give network managers a single-point-of control to remotely monitor, manage, and troubleshoot critical IT infrastructure from anywhere in the world. Console servers offer backdoor management for business continuity, multiple applications for multiple industries, and problem solving for distributed sites.

See our selection of console servers here, and find one to fit your application.

9. USB Extension

Demanding users trust Black Box USB extension products for applications like pro audio visual, industrial automation, education, medical diagnostics and imaging, remote desktop extension, security, surveillance, and military systems.

Learn more about extending USB over CATx, fibre, and IP networks, and how to deploy USB extension in applications including healthcare, manufacturing, security, and harsh environments. USB extenders are simple to use and cost-effective.

IC282A_PC
USB 1.1 and 2.0 Extender over CAT5e
IC400A_PCS2
USB Ultimate Extender over UTP
LGB304A_PCS
USB-Powered Gigabit 4-Port Switch

Use our USB guide to configure your ultimate serial solution.

10. Black Box networking products make the list with ethernet switches, industrial solutions, and console servers. Find what you need to connect and improve your network, including USB switches for increasing network speeds, such as the USB-Powered Gigabit 4-Port Switch, pictured above. Expand a small network without breaking the bank. Increase to Gigabit speeds via four autosensing 10-/100-/1000-Mbps ports. This compact and convenient switch can be powered via a PC’s USB port or the included AC adapter.

For more information about integrating and deploying infrastructure, networking, and extension products for your organisation, please contact Black Box pre-sales application engineers. Call 00800-CALLBBOX (00800-2255 2269) to talk to a technical expert today. Visit the Black Box store to see all our products, and shop for your end-to-end solution now.

Virtualized remote computing for retail outlets

KVM matrix switching gives multiple users access to a variety of target devices, including but not limited to CPUs, digital signage, and servers; the ability to monitor workflow; and flexible control of visual and peripheral elements.

Deploying KVM extension that operates over a LAN/WAN (local area network/wide area network) and incorporates virtual and physical CPUs gives retailers access options, reduces clutter in the workplace, and saves on energy costs.

In retail and inventory management systems virtualized remote computing is especially advantageous. Receiver units at the cash registers can access information on a virtual machine that runs on a server appliance.

This remote virtual system gives users access to their Active Directory accounts that is incorporated into a connection broker, with no need to set up a separate directory on the KVM system. The receivers gain access to virtual machines via Microsoft® Server 2008 or Microsoft Server 2012. By utilizing a connection broker, the virtualized machines can be easily duplicated, enabling workers to connect to the first available target without having to identify the target. This streamlines workflow and simplifies processes in busy retail applications.

Retail Point-of-Sale Application
A) Cash registers with KVM receivers
B) Server with virtualized CPUs
C) Manager workstation with KVM receiver
D) System manager unit

In addition, a KVM system that works over a LAN/WAN this way supports NLA (network level authentication) for security. It also can continue to support physical CPUs while expanding into virtualization.

As is seen in KVM technology, other benefits include a low total cost of ownership (TCO); improved operability and quick ROI; maximum, scalability, and improved reliability; and green IT solutions with energy-saving design and distribution.

To see details about Black Box’s virtualized solution, visit our InvisaPC pages. Contact our application engineers to see how this next-generation KVM can improve your organization’s workflow and ergonomics.

Oil & Gas Networking and Control Room Solutions

Industrial connectivity and KVM control room solutions for upstream, midstream, and downstream environments.

As the oil and gas industry continues to grow, more and more well sites, pumping stations, pipelines, processing plants, and refineries are being built. Along the entire route, safe, reliable networking and industrial automation are critical to smooth operations, efficiency, and productivity.

In 2014, the United States produced 9.2 million barrels of crude oil a day. The U.S. is now the largest producer of oil and gas, overtaking Saudi Arabia and Russia due to production from the Marcellus Shale. However, reservoirs of oil are becoming more difficult to access and increasingly less productive. To keep pace global consumptions, oil companies must constantly look for new sources of petroleum, as well as improve the production of existing wells.

Read more about industry solutions  for the oil and gas industry at our website.

Digital KVM Control and Monitoring Solutions for the Energy Industry: Automation, processes, and workflow

Black Box is committed to helping our customers succeed as they transition to the digital media environment. We help clients in the energy industry design and deploy mission-critical solutions.

In drilling operations, KVM systems provide high-quality and instant access to video and control signals from multiple sources to multiple users. In oil and gas exploration, rapid access to graphical data and processes throughout a seismic survey and the ability to respond quickly to status changes are crucial for safe and efficient operation. Remote monitoring solutions in control rooms provide users with better overview, quicker access to data, and failover connectivity. With KVM solutions, users can switch and extend real-time HD video and USB HID over LAN/WAN for remote monitoring.

Black Box KVM Solutions

  • KVM and hybrid KVM peripheral switching platforms
  • Virtual desktop remote management
  • Signal conversion and signal distribution
  • KVM extension to improve ergonomics by reducing heat and noise in the workplace
  • KVM extension over fiber for long distances

Benefits for you:

  • Updating current analog systems to faster and more reliable digital KVM.
  • Remote monitoring operations reduce risk for injuries in dangerous areas.
  • Reduced risk for downtime and accidental environmental disasters.
  • Asset Integrity Management (AIM)
  • Maximize human capital by running parallel tasks with fewer users who have instantaneous access to critical resources.

Learn more about high-performance KVM solutions for the oil and gas industries.

If you have a control room project coming up, contact your local Black Box office.

Black Box Digital KVM Switch chosen Best of Show at InfoComm 2015

AV Technology named the DCX3000 Matrix Digital KVM Switch from Black Box a Best of Show Winner at InfoComm 2015. This innovative product was demonstrated at the show, which took place in Orlando, FL, June 17–19.

Small size and big performance set the DCX3000 apart from otherBlack-Box-InfoComm-2015-Booth digital matrix switches in its class. Created for smaller organizations that need to upgrade to digital KVM signal switching and extension, the DCX3000 reaches 30 endpoints over CATx cable. Go up to 10 m from the workstation to the KVM switch and up to 50 m from the switch to the CPU.

The DCX3000 Matrix Digital KVM Switch features zero latency and zero compression of the signal transmission. The Graphical User Interface (GUI) is simplified for ease of use. In fact, according to the judges at AV Technology, this was an award-winning feature. “The unique thumbnail preview provides a simplified graphical user interface, making it easier to view multiple screens than text-based, on-screen menus,” according to one of the judges.

Digital KVM matrix switching gives multiple users access to the same systems in real time for monitoring and controlling processes. Learn more about migrating to digital KVM.

View the full list of winners of the AV Technology Best of Show Awards. AVT bases awards in part on the ability to see and test the products it selects on the trade show floor. The decision to award a product a Best of Show designation is also based on a combination of the following criteria: perceived value, ROI and TCO, richness of the feature set, ease-of-use, reliability, versatility, and overall network impact. According the AV Technology, “The Best of Show Awards support our objective of meeting the needs of the tech manager community by spotlighting products that genuinely solve problems, offer value, and consider the operator’s PoV.”

View Black Box’s Garrett Swindell giving a brief demonstration of the GUI of the DCX3000 in the video link below. AV Technology is able to talk to product managers and team members, such as Garrett, that help develop and test products.

Additional resources
More about the solution: DCX3000 explained in details
Video: DCX3000 setup and applications

 

8 Critical features next-generation KVM switching and extension systems should offer

Here’s a checklist to use as you shop for a future-proof, high-performance digital KVM switch or switching and extension systems. It’s easy to remember as FAR-PARSS.

Flexibility
Any enterprise-wide KVM system should be flexible enough to input and output many types of video and peripherals, especially if you are in broadcast or command and control. Video signals such as DVI, HDMI, and VGA should be supported with resolutions ranging from 1080p to 4K. Other signal types to look for are audio, USB 1.1 or 2.0 for peripherals like keyboards and mice, and serial signals for industrial applications.

A flexible system should also be scalable for future growth. Calculate the total number of video sources and displays you have, and try to plan for growth. The KVM switches need to support current and future users with enough ports so that users do not have to create silos of servers and users. Look for a KVM system that can replace a video-only router with a high-performance digital KVM matrix switching system. A management controller enables central administration of the system. Does the management controller use a graphical user interface, or a text-based OSD?

Accuracy
When a KVM system can support video resolutions of 1920 x 1080 at 60 Hz or 3840 x 2160 at 60 Hz, test to make sure video does not lag or drop frames with rapidly changing content. Not all analog KVM systems or IP-based systems are up to the task, although most digital systems, including digital IP-based systems, can support fast, high-definition video.

Responsiveness
Test keyboard and mouse setup to make sure there is no latency. A true USB emulation KVM switch is responsive and consistent; an unresponsive K/M jars the operator out of his/her workflow.

Productivity
Optimally, a high-performance digital KVM system improves users’ productivity. In a matrix setting, all resources and displays can be connected and switched between by multiple users. Collaboration is enhanced by the ability to view and control the same resources simultaneously.

Accessibility
Calculate the longest distance between your endpoints, and make sure the KVM system can work over CATx or fiber cabling – or a mix of both – to reach all your targets. With digital matrix KVM systems, multiple users should have real-time access to targets.

Reliability
New generation KVM systems will support redundancy options such as multiple power supply units for 24/7 uptime. Be sure to eliminate single points of failure. Make sure the system you select can support routing transmitters and receivers through two separate core KVM switches for full redundancy.

Speed
Many digital KVM switching systems support video-switching speeds of under a half second. Anything longer interrupts an operator’s workflow as he or she switches between resources and may be noticeable to a viewer. Does your KVM solution support custom keyboard shortcuts (also called hotkey shortcuts) that can be set for switching a local display as well as remote displays, such as other user terminals for collaboration or a video wall?

Security
Lastly, KVM switching and extension systems need to be secure. Be sure administrators can assign specific access rights to specific resources. Remote configuration and maintenance of the KVM system enables an admin to securely log onto a system.

When you can mark off all eight of these categories, you’ll have maximized your ROI.

View our webinar about how digital KVM benefits the broadcasting industry.

The changing landscape of secure KVM switching certifications

Until recently, the National Information Assurance Partnership (NAIP) used Common Criteria Evaluation & Validation Scheme (CCEVS) to evaluate and approve KVM switches for security. EAL2 and EAL4+ are tests regarding the process of the design, testing, verification, and shipping of security products. This protection profile is an international standardized process for information technology security evaluation, validation, and certification.

NAIP has determined that EAL and CCEVS are no longer adequate security standards for KVM switches that connect to systems with differing security classifications. As a result, they  upgraded the Protection Profile (PP) for peripheral sharing switches to PPS 3.0. Still, the next generation of secure switches are going to need to be TEMPEST-approved for the tightest security measures available.

TEMPEST testing, while classified, is regarded as a process that assesses the port-to-port isolation required for certain KVM switches. A TEMPEST approval means the necessary isolation is achieved and qualified. Additionally, the threat of data leaking by various covert electromagnetic eavesdropping mechanisms has been evaluated and found to be secure.

The TEMPEST designation is often required by military organizations. TEMPEST, as a security standard, pertains to technical security countermeasures, standards, and instrumentation that prevent or minimize the exploitation of vulnerable data communications equipment by technical surveillance or eavesdropping.

A desktop KVM switch at its most basic, is simply a hardware device that enables one workstation consisting of a keyboard, video monitor, and mouse to control more than one CPU. Desktop KVM switches are usually 2- or 4-port switches, and by pushing button or using keystrokes, users can easily access information and applications on completely separate systems.

Secure KVM switches fill a special need in switching for users, such as those in the military, government agencies, or law enforcement, who need to access information stored at different classification levels on physically separate systems. A secure desktop KVM switch is usual a two or four-port switch that provides control and separation of PCs connected to networks of differing security classifications. TEMPEST-approved switches offer the following features:

  • High port-to-port electrical isolation, which facilitates data separation (RED/BLACK). Channel-to-channel –80-dB to 60-dB crosstalk isolation protects against signal snooping, so software tools and applications cannot be used to access any connected computer from another connected computer.
  • Switches are permanently hard wired, preventing access from one CPU to the others or access from one network to others.
  • External tamper-evident seals make it easy to spot attempted tampering.
  • Users can safely switch among as many as four computers operating at different classification levels.
  • Unidirectional flow of keyboard and mouse data means the computer cannot leak data along K/M signaling channels.
  • USB host controller erases entire RAM at each channel switchover. This prevents residual data from remaining in the channel after a channel change and being transferred to another computer.
  • Only keyboard and mouse devices can be enumerated at the keyboard and mouse ports. Any other USB peripheral connected will be inhibited from operating, preventing the upload or download of unauthorized data.

The Secure Desktop KVM Switches with USB from Black Box surpass the security profiles of most other KVM switches because they have received approvals and certifications in the TEMPEST testing standard.

Additional Resources

White Paper: Secure Desktop KVM Switch Update

DisplayPort interface for 4K, explained

DisplayPort is the most recent digital video interface to be developed for commercial use. It is a standard for PCs.

The DisplayPort standard was designed as a replacement for DVI connectors on computer hardware. The connector is smaller and screwless for easier installation. The connector still has a locking mechanism to hold it in place, addressing a weakness of the HDMI connector. It is similar in specifications to HDMI, but it is more common for computers than for televisions.

DisplayPort uses a packet type of interface, just like an IP network does. The network-like design means a single connection can send multiple streams, so a single DisplayPort port can connect to more than one display.

DisplayPort uses very high speeds, enabled by the packet-type delivery that is implemented through chipsets. One can think of it as a high-speed network for digital video. DisplayPort uses a serial interface with up to four main data lanes that can carry multiplexed video and audio data. Each data lane supports a raw data rate of 1.62 Gbps, 2.7 Gbps, or 5.4 Gbps (DisplayPort 1.2 or later). Additionally, unlike with DVI, an audio channel is supported — up to eight channels of 16- or 24-bit at 48 KHz, 96 KHz, or 192 KHz.

DisplayPort and DVI
DisplayPort and DVI use different signal processing methods, but converting between the two can be done with adapters. Some DisplayPort ports have internal components to make them passively compatible with DVI signals, but this is not a DisplayPort requirement. This is known as Dual Mode, or DP++. It appears that DisplayPort is converted to DVI, but the hardware outputs a DVI signal through a DisplayPort port. If the hardware in use can’t output the DVI signal, then a DisplayPort-to-DVI adapter won’t operate. Users should look for the DP++ symbol.

DVI offers no audio support, which gives another advantage to DisplayPort. An additional advantage for DisplayPort is that packetizing data lowers demand on bandwidth. DVI uses separate data channels for each color, requiring high bandwidth all the time.

DisplayPort and HDMI
Since HDMI technology and DVI use the same signal technology, HDMI and DisplayPort have similar compatibility issues noted already.

HDMI is the digital standard targeted to home theater, and DisplayPort was developed for use with computer electronics. However, feature-wise, DisplayPort is very similar to HDMI, including the inclusion of the HDCP content-protection standard.

Some differences include:

  • DisplayPort has a maximum bandwidth that is larger than the maximum bandwidth of HDMI (10.8 Gbit/sec, compared to HDMI at 10.2).
  • DisplayPort supports DPCP (DisplayPort Content Protection) standard in addition to HDCP.
  • DisplayPort is an open standard, available to all manufacturers at no cost; HDMI is licensed, which raises costs.
  • DisplayPort supports resolutions up to 4K.

For additional information on 4K-ready DisplayPort solutions, visit www.black-box.eu/4K.