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  1. Technology
July 27, 1994


By CBR Staff Writer

Mountain View, California-based Starlight Networks Inc, developer of StarWorks, a rewritten Ethernet network operating environment optimised for simultaneous access to digital video, is beta-testing Fibre Distributed Data Interface and Token Ring versions and says that the product will ultimately be available on Asynchronous Transfer Mode. StarWorks features Starlight’s own Media Transport Protocol, a low-overhead, rate-controlled protocol that controls or meters the flow of video on the network at a rate of 32Kbps of video at a time. The assumptions built into the Media Transport Protocol are that, first, video is predictable, that frame three comes after frame two and that, second, if you drop a bit at 30 frames per second, it does not matter, but you definitely do not want to get it delivered later on, something TCP/IP is wont to do, comments Sebrianne Moore, sales director. Starlight disguises Media Transport Protocol with an MS-DOS redirector or Macintosh handler to be able to use MS-DOS and Windows, or Mac commands. With all of the StarWorks client software found in the transport layer (Layer Four of the Open Systems Interconnection seven-layer model), the product architecture should be readily adaptable to Asynchronous Transfer Mode and other networking physical layer technologies, the company says. With an Asynchronous Mode driver, StarWorks could be adapted for a high-bandwidth application such as residential video-on-demand. StarWorks is based on LynxOS Unixalike kernel; it comprises a video file system, Streaming RAID and a video network software engine that reserves server and network resources for reliable video delivery. Streaming RAID reserves disk resources; stripes video data across multiple drives; and reads the video data off in a manner that eliminates the possibilities for disk fragmentation and maximizes simultaneous playback. StarWorks serves also as the video networking software for Hewlett-Packard Co’s broadcast video server, which the Cupertino company is marketing to television broadcasters to enable them to automate their advertising management process. Hewlett says it chose StarWorks because it reliably provides up to 60Mbps of streaming audio and video capacity… enabling the server to handle the high-quality picture needs of the broadcast industry, using 15Mbps MPEG streams. The server for StarWorks uses an EISA bus 80486 machine running at 50MHz or 66MHz or a Pentium, with a minimum of 24Mb of RAM. In the autumn, it will be available under Solaris, which the company expects to handle up to 150 or 200 video streams. StarWorks comes in 50Mbps, 25Mbps and 12Mbps versions, priced respectively at $25,000, $15,000 and $8,750 for the server software and client video network interface software for either MS-DOS and Windows or Macintosh personal computers. The 50Mbps version is connected to a customised Lannet Ethernet switch, support for other switches will be available in October, via a StarLink video server adaptor board. The adaptor provides a high-speed connection to the hub and turbocharges the 80486 system to support more users.

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