SMPTE 2110 Deep Dive: Complete Guide and In-Depth Analysis of SMPTE 2110

The world of professional media production is constantly evolving, with new technologies and standards emerging to meet the ever-growing demands of the industry. One such standard is SMPTE ST 2110, a game changer that has revolutionized the way video, audio, and ancillary data are transmitted and managed in professional media applications. This technology has gained popularity over the traditional Serial Digital Interface (SDI) for creating more flexible, scalable, and efficient IP-based workflows.

In this blog post, we will unravel the power of SMPTE 2110 (also known as ST 2110 or SMPTE ST 2110) and explore its various aspects, from its origins to its real-world implementations. We will also discuss the benefits of adopting this standard, compare it with other video standards such as NDI and outline the reasons why it’s time to make the switch to ST 2110.

Key Takeaways

  • SMPTE 2110 is a comprehensive suite of standards that provides scalability, superior quality for professional media applications, and seamless integration with other IP-based tools and technologies.
  • It ensures optimized bandwidth utilization, efficient transmission of video/audio streams, and enhanced user experience for audiences.
  • Organizations can benefit from increased flexibility, scalability & improved workflows when transitioning to SMPTE ST 2110 from SDI or other IP-based standards like NDI.

Understanding SMPTE 2110: A Comprehensive Overview

ST 2110, created by the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE), stands as a suite of standards that has transformed the professional media landscape. It offers a comprehensive framework for transporting uncompressed video, audio, and ancillary data over IP networks.

Employed in broadcast servers and transceivers, this standard is increasingly preferred over SDI, in high-end production for unlocking new possibilities in quality and control. Its transformative capabilities are highlighted by the manageable separation of video, audio, and metadata into independent essence streams.

Grasping the power of ST 2110 requires a deep understanding of its key components and functionalities. The SMPTE standard is comprised of four distinct components. These components are:

  1. 2110-10 for timing and synchronization
  2. 2110-20 for uncompressed video
  3. 2110-30 for uncompressed audio
  4. 2110-40 for ancillary data

These components work together to ensure seamless transmission and management of professional media over IP networks, resulting in enhanced flexibility, scalability, and seamless integration across various systems and devices, including other professional media applications.

How does the ST 2110 work?

SMPTE 2110 components

ST 2110 facilitates the transmission of uncompressed video, audio, and metadata over IP networks. It separates each media into their own individual stream for flexible, independent processing and easier management of each individual essence stream.

This process is then optimized with ST 2110 native Precision Time Protocol (PTP) which ensures perfect synchronization between each media stream across both IP networks and different devices within the production setup.

Additionally, it creates redundancy with dual network paths and failover mechanisms. This ensures that any failure within the IP networks or devices will seamlessly be replaced by the backup for continuous operation. Moreover, its standardization ensures interoperability, fostering a cohesive environment for diverse equipment and formats in the production setup to seamlessly work together. All these functions are accomplished by components of ST 2110.

What components of SMPTE ST 2110 do?

  1. 2110-10 for timing and synchronization: As previously mentioned, the SMPTE ST 2110 suite consists of four primary components, with the first being the SMPTE ST 2110-10 timing and synchronization protocol. This protocol ensures the precise alignment of various media streams, including video and audio, a critical aspect for IP-based productions. It achieves this by instructing devices in the SMPTE ST 2110 suite on how to synchronize their clocks, thereby maintaining synchronization among different media components.
  2. 2110-20 uncompressed video: establishes parameters and protocols for transporting video essence as an individual, uncompressed elementary stream. This includes defining crucial characteristics such as color space, bit depth, and sampling structure. Furthermore, it incorporates elements for identifying video streams within the IP network, streamlining the routing and management of video signals in a media production environment.
  3. ST 2110-30 uncompressed audio: Operating similarly to SMPTE ST 2110-20 but with a focus on audio, it outlines parameters for transporting audio essence, covering characteristics such as sample rate, bit depth, and channel count. The standard outlines encapsulation methods, transport parameters, and the structure of audio packets. Additionally, it addresses the identification and routing of audio streams within an IP network, contributing to the effective management and organization of audio signals in a media production environment.
  4. ST 2110-40 ancillary data: Ancillary data consists of additional information accompanying main audio and video signals. Examples include closed captioning, subtitles, timecode, metadata, and slate information. Similar to other components in the SMPTE ST 2110 suite, SMPTE ST 2110-40 specifies how ancillary data is packetized for transmission. It also provides mechanisms for identifying and routing ancillary data streams within an IP network, ensuring efficient management and organization of supplementary ancillary data packets in a media production environment.

The four primary components of SMPTE ST 2110 work in unison to ensure seamless transmission of video, audio, and data over IP networks. By utilizing UDP/RTP packets to transport essence streams, SMPTE ST 2110 provides a self-contained and synchronized solution for each media type, enabling increased flexibility, quality, and scalability compared to traditional SDI-based systems. This has led to SMPTE ST 2110 being extensively used in professional applications like production, playout, and other real-time media projects.

The Evolution of Video Standards: From SDI to SMPTE 2110

The journey from traditional video standards like SDI and HDMI to IP-based standards like ST 2110 has been driven by the need for increased flexibility, scalability, and quality in the professional media industry. SDI, developed in 1989 by the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers, has been the industry standard for video broadcasting since the early 90s.

However, its limitations in terms of flexibility and scalability have paved the way for the emergence of IP-based video standards like SMPTE 2110, which offers a more versatile and future-proof solution for professional media applications.

Appreciating the significance of this transition requires a clear understanding of SDI’s limitations and the advantages IP-based standards like ST 2110 bring to the table. The sections to follow will explore:

  • The drawbacks of SDI
  • The challenges of transitioning to IP-based video standards
  • The benefits of embracing SMPTE ST 2110 in professional media applications.

SDI and Its Limitations

SMPTE provides more stream paths than SMPTE 2110

While SDI offers several advantages, such as the ability to support longer cable runs than HDMI and convenient termination with BNC connectors, it also suffers from inherent limitations that have led to the advent of IP-based video standards like SMPTE ST 2110.

One of the primary limitations of SDI is its inability to accommodate the increasing demand for flexibility and scalability in professional media applications. SDI cables have distance limitations based on the resolution and framerate of the video feed. Additionally, SDI combines video, audio, and metadata into a single stream, which makes it difficult to manage and route individual components independently.

In contrast, SMPTE ST 2110 separates these components into distinct streams, allowing for greater flexibility and scalability in professional media applications.

Transitioning to IP-based Video Standards

The transition to IP-based video standards like ST 2110 has been driven by the need for increased flexibility, scalability, and seamless integration with new AI & cloud-based solutions in the professional media industry. IP-based standards offer several advantages over traditional SDI-based systems, such as:

  • The ability to rapidly reconfigure to meet changing requirements
  • The ability to replicate existing SDI-based systems
  • Providing a standardized approach to breaking media into its components of video, audio, and ancillary data

However, transitioning to IP-based video standards also presents several challenges for broadcasters and media companies. These challenges include:

  • Understanding the standards, protocols, and formats used in IP delivery
  • Reducing broadcast latency and implementing cloud technology
  • Addressing content security and piracy concerns
  • Dealing with the lack of common specifications in the early stages of IP adoption
  • Addressing the transition to IP and the move to the cloud

Despite these challenges, the benefits of adopting IP-based video standards like ST 2110 far outweigh the drawbacks, making it an essential step for future-proofing professional media applications.

Benefits of Adopting SMPTE ST 2110 in Professional Media Applications

ST 2110 servers have revolutionized professional media applications by providing a comprehensive solution for transporting video, audio, and ancillary data over IP networks. This IP-based standard offers a plethora of benefits that make it a compelling choice for organizations looking to transition from traditional SDI-based systems to more flexible, scalable, and efficient IP-based workflows.

The upcoming sections will delve into the significant benefits of embracing SMPTE ST 2110 in professional media applications. These benefits include increased flexibility, scalability, enhanced bandwidth efficiency, traffic shaping, and improved interoperability. By understanding these advantages, organizations can make informed decisions about whether to adopt SMPTE ST 2110 and how to leverage its capabilities for their specific needs.

Increased Flexibility and Scalability

One of the most significant benefits of ST 2110 servers is their ability to provide increased flexibility and scalability for professional media applications. This IP-based standard allows for:

  • Rapid reconfiguration to meet changing requirements
  • Replication of existing SDI-based systems
  • A standardized approach to breaking media into its components of video, audio, and ancillary data packets

Firstly, ST 2110 is designed with a focus on interoperability. This means it ensures the seamless synergy between devices and equipment from different manufacturers within a production environment. The compatibility of ST 2110 with different formats extends to various media sources. Cameras, video servers, audio consoles, and other equipment can produce media in different formats, and ST 2110 provides a common transport layer that allows these sources to contribute to the overall production seamlessly.

SMPTE ST 2110’s compatibility with different formats enables its integration into existing production workflows. This is particularly important for broadcasters and production facilities that have invested in specific equipment or workflows over time. SMPTE ST 2110 allows for the incorporation of IP-based technology without disrupting established practices.

Moreover, it is format agnostic, meaning it doesn’t mandate a specific video or audio format. Instead, it focuses on providing a standardized framework for the transport of uncompressed video, audio, and metadata. This allows broadcasters to use the video and audio formats that best suit their production requirements without being constrained by the transport protocol, resulting in its popularity in high-end productions. ST 2110 supports a wide range of video resolutions and frame rates, accommodating various production scenarios. Whether it’s high-definition (HD), ultra-high-definition (UHD), or different frame rates, ST 2110 can adapt to different formats, making it suitable for diverse applications such as live events, sports, news, and entertainment productions.

SMPTE ST 2110’s agnostic feature is further enhanced by its ability to transport uncompressed video, audio, and ancillary data. In large and complex productions where high-quality content is essential, the ability to transmit media over IP networks without compression ensures the preservation of the original, pristine quality. The media essence’s separation into different essence streams allows for greater control and management of the production.

Additionally in contrast to SDI, which permits only a singular video transmission per cable, SMPTE 2110 offers a significant advantage by enabling the transmission of up to eight separate 1080p video streams over a single 25 GB fiber cable. This capability not only optimizes cable utilization but also enhances overall system flexibility, allowing for the simultaneous transport of multiple high-definition video streams, thereby maximizing efficiency and reducing infrastructure complexity.

SMPTE 2110 servers also enable greater scalability in media production through their increased flexibility and agility. This allows for swift reconfiguration to meet changing requirements and accommodate potential advances in video over IP-based technologies, and transitions to cloud-based production. SMPTE ST 2110’s support of a wide range of applications and workflows makes it suitable for diverse production scenarios.

Large and complex productions often involve various components, such as live events, studio productions, and post-production workflows. SMPTE ST 2110’s versatility ensures that it can be applied across different stages of content creation and distribution. Furthermore, multicast IP streaming provided by SMPTE ST 2110 enables more scalable and redundant workflows, making it an ideal choice for organizations looking to future-proof their media production systems.

Bandwidth Efficiency, Traffic Shaping

Another critical advantage of ST 2110 is its ability to improve bandwidth efficiency and traffic shaping in professional media applications. By separating video, audio, and data into separate streams, ST 2110 allows users to only send and receive the necessary streams, thereby improving overall efficiency and reducing bandwidth consumption.

SMPTE 2110 provides the following benefits:

  • Traffic shaping and delivery timing for uncompressed video streams
  • Optimized bandwidth utilization
  • Efficient transmission of video and audio streams
  • Efficient management of IP network resources
  • Superior user experience for audiences

This is particularly beneficial for broadcasters and media companies dealing with increased demand for high-quality professional video and audio content, including the efficient transmission of audio signals.


Lastly, A key feature of ST 2110 is the redundancy it offers live production workflows. ST 2110 allows for the use of redundant IP network paths. In a live production setup, this means that media streams can be transmitted over multiple network links simultaneously. If one IP network path experiences a failure or congestion, the system can seamlessly switch to an alternate path, ensuring continuous transmission.

The redundancy it offers extends to other devices in the production setup as well. Multiple units of key devices, such as video routers or production switchers, can be deployed. If one device encounters a failure, the system can switch to an identical backup device to maintain continuous operation.

Seamlessly integrate SMPTE ST 2110 servers into your media supply chain

A key success factor in adopting SMPTE ST 2110 servers is their seamless integration with both traditional and cloud-based production workflows. The TVU Transceiver stands out in this regard due to its remarkable flexibility. Capable of functioning as a single, dual, or quad receiver, it supports the input and output of various IP formats, including NDI, SRT, RTMP, and SMPTE ST 2110.

What sets TVU Transceiver apart is its integration with our IP-based video distribution platform, TVU Grid, and our AI-driven media supply chain management platform, TVU MediaMind. This unique integration provides unmatched management and distribution features, setting it apart from other broadcast servers in the industry and enhancing its potential for scalability.

Real-World Implementations

SMPTE 2110 has been successfully implemented in a variety of professional media applications, demonstrating its applicability and effectiveness in meeting the demands of the industry. An example includes TVU Transceivers’ role in ensuring a high quality, stable, and redundant live stream distribution of Portugal’s first football match broadcast using 5G technology.

Comparing SMPTE ST 2110 with NDI

SMPTE ST 2110 is not the only video standard available for professional media applications. Other standards such as NDI also offer unique advantages and capabilities. However, when it comes to high-end, large-scale productions requiring uncompressed video and superior video quality, SMPTE ST 2110 stands out as the most suitable choice.

SMPTE ST 2110 vs NDI

A comparison of SMPTE ST 2110 with other video standards like NDI should take into account factors like implementation ease, versatility, and cost-effectiveness. While NDI is a more accessible and affordable option for smaller-scale productions, it limits your production’s scalability and flexibility.

Firstly, NDI compresses the video to reduce bandwidth and while this is beneficial for bandwidth considerations it can compromise the absolute video quality. furthermore, NDI lacks native support for Precision Time Protocol (PTP) synchronization, which is essential for larger, more complex productions. Unlike NDI, ST 2110 transports uncompressed video and audio while using a native PTP for fully synched pristine quality.

While NDI remains a viable standard for smaller production setups, it does not meet today’s demands of high-end productions which usually employ SMPTE ST 2110 due to providing high-quality transport of uncompressed video, audio, and metadata.

In conclusion, SMPTE ST 2110 offers the perfect balance of flexibility, scalability, and superior video quality for professional media applications, making it an in-demand component of large scale productions.

Why switch to ST 2110

In today’s rapidly evolving media landscape, adopting SMPTE 2110 is no longer a matter of choice but a necessity for organizations looking to stay ahead of the curve. By transitioning to SMPTE 2110, organizations can reap the benefits of:

  • Increased flexibility
  • Scalability
  • Improved workflows
  • Seamless integration with other IP-based tools and technologies.

Nonetheless, the shift to ST 2110 is a serious decision. Organizations need to thoughtfully weigh the potential benefits and challenges associated with the transition, taking into consideration factors such as the need for specialized hardware, intricate network configurations, and specialized technical understanding. Despite these challenges, the advantages of adopting SMPTE ST 2110 far outweigh the drawbacks, making it an essential step for future-proofing the media supply chain and staying ahead in the competitive media industry.


In conclusion, SMPTE ST 2110 has emerged as a game-changing standard in the realm of professional media applications, providing a comprehensive solution for transporting video, audio, and ancillary data over IP networks. By offering increased flexibility, scalability, and interoperability, this technology has revolutionized the way we produce, transmit, and manage professional media content.

As the industry continues to evolve, organizations must adapt and embrace new technologies and standards like SMPTE ST 2110 to stay ahead of the curve. By understanding the benefits of adopting SMPTE ST 2110, as well as the challenges and potential drawbacks, organizations can make informed decisions on whether to make the switch and how best to leverage this powerful standard for their specific needs.


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