Luminex GigaCore 26i – Network Smarts for Production
By Jason Allen.
Belgian AV networking specialists Luminex are staunch live production people, with networking knowledge to boot. They pride themselves on making Ethernet switches that you don’t need any specialist IT knowledge to use, optimised for live production. Their range of ruggedised switches is packed with etherCONs, operable on the front panel, and designed to be hung off trusses or roadcased and toured. The GigaCore 26i is a little different.
The 26i is a high-density switch, packing way more connectivity than its siblings. This comes at the expense of using RJ45s and SFPs (Small Form Factor Pluggable) instead of etherCON, so it’s better suited to being at FOH or side stage and protected than hanging off a truss. It sports 24 RJ45s, and four shared and two dedicated SFPs for fibre. It doesn’t have a LED screen and front panel operation like other units in the range.
What it does have is major automatic intelligence built-in. It’s like having your own IT staff, but you don’t even have to ask them to do anything, they just know what you want.
Setting up VLANs is so ridiculously easy and understandable that they don’t even call them VLANs, it’s ‘Groups’. Open up the software, click on a diagram of the switch and which ports you want in which group, and it’s done. You get colour coding in the software and on LEDs on the front panel so everyone knows where they can plug in their gear.
Automatic redundant link set-up is enabled by default. This means you can connect two fibres between one 26i at FOH and one on stage, and the switches automatically recognise them as a primary and back-up connection. Some normal off-the-shelf switches will crash if you do this.
With bandwidth at 1gig per port, you can easily link ports together if you need to stream something big, like 4K uncompressed video. Again, a couple of clicks in the software and its done.
After you’ve got everything set-up the way you want it, save it as a preset in the Profile Manager. You’ve got 10 slots available, which saves heaps of time when you need to reconfigure your switch for different gigs. There’s an option for PoE if you need it, for a bit extra. It’s 375W total, and is managed very clearly for you in the power page. You get to see the unit’s total power, how much is allocated, and how much is being drawn. You can set a priority list that will start to turn off lower priority devices if the power draw gets too much.
Reassuringly, the GigaCore 26i has the option for a redundant DC power back-up, which any sane live technician is going to run.
Two GigaCore 26 is are enough to cover the most demanding live-set ups on all but the most enormous of gigs, and anyone in the crew who has a data connection on their gear, which is just about everyone now, will be able to connect and use the software.