NVIDIA’s Thomas Kernen Named 2020 SMPTE Fellow For Acts of Good Timing

On Tuesday this week, the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE) named NVIDIA employee Thomas Kernen as one of their new Fellows for 2020. Each year, SMPTE recognizes several technical experts for outstanding contributions to the creation, management, and transmission of video for the professional broadcast industries.

The new fellows are recognized at the annual SMPTE Technical Conference and Exhibition, which will take place this year online, November 10-12. 

The world of movie and television is undergoing the second of two major revolutions. The first was the well-known switch to digital streaming for viewers and digital capture and production for studios, television stations, and producers. Video that was once shot on film or video cassettes are now all captured digitally. Editing, compositing, and production are also digital, as are rendering and special effects, in a 100%-digital video model from capture to broadcast to archive and re-use.

The current revolution is moving video quality from high-definition (HD) to ultra-high definition (UHD) 4K and 8K resolutions, and the legacy serial digital interface (SDI) for connecting video production equipment falls short. As a result the industry is moving to IP Video Networks that can use 25, 100, and even 200Gb/s Ethernet to capture, move, edit, synchronize, and stream HD and UHD videos. Scalable IP video networks deliver huge gains in scalability and flexibility but require solutions to ensure extremely accurate timing and predictable bandwidth sharing to support multiple simultaneous video, audio and metadata streams.  

Thomas has been driving standards and technology innovation around the use of IP networks for video production, broadcast, and streaming, as well as the use of precision time protocols on networks to synchronize and coordinate video capture and broadcast. He is actively contributing not only to SMPTE standards but to the Advanced Media Workloads Association (AMWA), the Joint Task Force on Networked Media (JT-NM), Digital Video Project (DVB), and the European Broadcast Union (EBU).

Most recently, Thomas has worked on solutions to finalize the SMPTE standards around ST 2110 and ST 2059, which define the transport and synchronization of media over IP flows. Thomas was part of the original group of members that worked on these definitions and started evangelizing and demonstrating such capabilities throughout the industry to encourage their adoption. He also contributed to developing hardware acceleration technologies for offloading IP video streaming to specialized smart network interface cards (SmartNICs) in order to deliver more video streams per server with quality-of-service (QoS) management. His work is available today in the NVIDIA Mellanox ConnectX SmartNICs via the Rivermax software libraries and APIs.

NVIDIA Rivermax software lets developers integrate with streaming video acceleration and QoS features using ConnectX SmartNICs. Rivermax is JT-NM tested to comply with the SMPTE ST2110 standard.

Thomas’ work also allows precise time synchronization and time stamping using the IEEE 1588 Precision Time Protocol (PTP) capabilities in NVIDIA Mellanox Spectrum Ethernet switches.  With PTP, different video production equipment across the network can be synchronized precisely to ensure alignment of digital video capture, processing and streaming.

NVIDIA Spectrum Ethernet switches support the Precision Time Protocol (PTP) using either the Mellanox Onyx or Cumulus Linux network operating system.

Thanks to his many years devoted to improving and standardizing IP video networking, digital video production and streaming today are able to concurrently run faster, more efficiently, and more predictable on Ethernet networks at high speeds.  Video creators, broadcasters, producers, and consumers can all benefit from improved digital audio and video, from 4K and 8K digital cinema on flatscreen LCD TVs to mobile video on the latest smartphones. NVIDIA salutes all the new SMPTE 2020 fellows and extends a special congratulations to Thomas Kernen.


About Thomas Kernen: Thomas Kernen is a Senior Staff Architect for Networking at NVIDIA where he is focused on transforming media production to an IP-centric architecture for studios, service providers, and broadcast industries. He sits on or chairs multiple industry standards bodies relevant to digital video production, IP video streaming, network time synchronization, and live video broadcast. Within SMPTE, Thomas chairs the Network/Facilities Infrastructure 32F Technology Committee, which focuses on the definition and control of elements supporting the infrastructures of content production and distribution facilities. He is actively participating in the development of SMPTE standards ST 2059 for the use of the IEEE 1588 precision time protocol standard in video broadcast and ST 2110 for the transport of uncompressed video over IP networks in professional broadcast industries. Thomas co-founded multiple startups that developed IP networking solutions for voice, video and web content delivery. He spent over a decade delivering IP video solutions as a technical leader at Cisco before joining Mellanox Technologies in 2017 and then NVIDIA in 2020.