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Overall Design of a Personal Media Network

In order to meet the overall goals of a Personal Media Network, the overall design includes these elements:
  • Central High-Powered Media Server with copious storage
  • 100Mbps wired Ethernet Network for transport of media data
  • Small, quiet, networked HDTV-capable Video Players at video locations
  • Small, quiet, networked MP3-Capable Audio Players at audio-only locations
  • Mandatory Media Formats:
    • HDTV MPEG-2 Transport Streams, up to the highest resolutions:
      • 1920x1080 interlaced
      • 1280x720 progressive
    • DVD MPEG-2 VOB files
    • MP3 audio files, including ID3 tags
    • Still JPEG photos

Media Server

The Media Server must be capable of serving full-rate audio and video data to multiple clients simultaneously. It must be networked. It must have enough storage space to hold 50 hours of HDTV programming, about 500GB of disk space.

Ethernet Network

The network infrastructure will be 100Mbps Ethernet over Category 5E (Cat5E) cable, with a 10/100 switch at the heart of the network. Wired Ethernet is the physical medium of choice for several reasons:
  • High-Speed. Cat5E cable is capable of 1Gbps operation, and gigabit equipment is rapidly becoming available. Standard wireless networks are capable of theoretical 54Mbps at best, with much-lower real-world numbers. (22Mbps for 802.11g, barely enough for one high-definition video stream)
  • Secure. Unlike wireless networks, wired ethernet can only be snooped via physical access to the network. For a home network, someone would have to break into your home, a hopefully unlikely prospect.
  • Flexible. Many new media devices include ethernet connections as a standard feature. As new devices are produced they will be able to connect to the Personal Media Network without any issues.

HDTV-capable Video Player

At locations with a television or video screen, it must be possible to play back high-definition (1920x1080 interlaced) MPEG-2 video signals from the Media Server. This requires a device with a component video output, a 100Mbps ethernet interface, and the ability to decode MPEG-2 video streams.

MP3-Capable Audio Player

At locations with speakers only, it must be possible to play back MP3 audio signals from the Media Server. This requires a device with stereo audio output and a 10Mbps ethernet interface.
Last modified on 18 Mar 2007 by AO

Copyright © 2020 Andrew Oliver