Crestron Rumored to Be Starting an AV-over-IP Alliance with Microsoft and Intel

Update: I spoke to Robin van Meeuwen, president and CEO of Crestron EMEA, at ISE 2018, where he confirmed this story to be true.

I think it’s possible that Crestron is, behind the scenes, forming an “alliance” of sorts of AV-over-IP companies that focus exclusively (for now) on the 1Gig method of sending AV signals over an IT network. Sources from at least two big display manufacturers have told me that Crestron contacted them to join a new alliance that it’s forming with Microsoft and Intel. Here’s one reason I think this could be true.

Microsoft and Intel? Yes, that’s what both of the sources told me and that site, if real, certainly indicates that.

Apparently, Microsoft wants to standardize the security of an AV-over-IP network and Intel is providing the chip technology. Crestron apparently provided the engineering to create the platform of a combined input/output board that they would OEM to manufacturers to put inside monitors and projectors. I use the term input/output intentionally as Crestron is supposedly telling manufacturers that one board would serve as both.

The Intel chip technology used in the 1Gig platform is based on an Altera chip that compresses up to 4K60 4:4:4 video to 1Gig — Intel purchased Altera back in late 2015. The chip actually being used is the Arria 10 that supposedly has the CPU processing power to encode/decode (and scale) UHD (3840×2160) content.

But, the big news here is that Crestron, a manufacturer, would be forming an alliance with Microsoft and Intel to, conceivably, complete with the SDVoE Alliance — started originally by AptoVision who has since been purchased by SEMTECH. SDVoE is the only 10Gig AV-over-IP system on the market right now and is supported by over 25 companies who are making AV-over-IP gear (and switches in NETGEAR’s case) for the AV market. And the SDVoE Alliance includes control companies like Kramer and Savant as well as switching and AV distribution companies like DVIGear (Disclaimer: I am the founder of DVIGear, though I no longer hold any ownership in the company.), AuroraZeeVeeIDK and iMAG Systems and display manufacturer, Christie Digital.

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For the naysayers out there that might not believe this is possible, I’ve included some screen-shots of what I was told is in a PowerPoint presentation given to the two display companies. Both of them sent me similar screen shots. And, if it does include Microsoft and Intel (both IT companies), and they help promote it, it will carry more weight than if Crestron tried to do this alone.

Crestron seems to have taken a very offensive approach with their NVX product line, lately, by not only lowering the pricing, according to both manufacturer reps and dealers I spoke to recently, but they told us they plan, at the ISE show in Amsterdam next week, to do a side-by-side of their 1Gig solution in a sort of a shoot-out with the SDVoE 10Gig solution and AMX’s own SVSi products — the current market leader.

I will let you know what I hear (and see) at ISE as I will be there.

One last note: AV-over-IP is at the beginning of its growth curve — at most, innovators and early adopters. This is all new. The industry is going to switch from HDMI and traditional matrix switching, eventually, but not all at once in 2018. 2018 will be the launching-pad year for the technology and AV integrators will likely see every major manufacturer enter the space in one format or another this year. But the idea of an all-of-a-sudden switch all AV to move all our signals across a network is a decade-long-process before it truly pervades the early majority. Not a one-year thing.

(We contacted Crestron to see if they would confirm the rumored alliance, but they did not want to comment at press time.)