Ask the Board – September 16, 2019 | STEVE “CHEWIE” STAVAR


“SoC vs Media Players: With more and more manufacturers offering System on a Chip (SoC) solutions, what’s the tipping point end users need to consider when planning their solutions?”

For my company’s standard digital signage application, system on a chip is still a few years away. This is because all of our installations are interactive, and I have not seen a system on a chip solution that offers interactivity.

If my situation was different and I didn’t need interactivity, the thought of being able to plug in a monitor to A/C and WiFi, A/C and data, or Power over Ethernet and be done sounds great. I’d have minimal points of failure and be up and running in no time. If my CMS was partnered with the monitor manufacturer, I would be able to deploy my non-interactive templates to these monitors and be good to go. I think this solution could work well for a very specific use case of digital signage deployments.

Admittedly, we have stretched the limits of every visual communications system we have ever run at West Virginia University. When I looked into using system on a chip, I saw limitations in the software for system on a chip versus what I could do in the full windows-based player. This would mean that I would have to segment my templates even further and literally double my efforts to have to make Windows player templates and SoC templates. Once I realized this, I started to think about other “what if” situations there were with the system on a chip solution.

For instance, if we were to go to SoC, what will be shown on the monitors if my data connection drops? How much data is cached locally? What is the limitation for local storage space for things like videos, especially 4K videos? What am I able to replace when the SoC or monitor dies? Do you have to replace the whole unit? Is the system on a chip something that can be popped out and replaced or upgraded? What happens when I have 10 SoC monitors installed and the next batch of monitors have a different OS on them? Do I have to make another set of deployments? Can I remotely upgrade the existing monitors to the new OS? What happens when I need more functionality than what system on a chip can offer?

These are some of the things that haven’t been clearly explained. System on a ship sounds like a great solution, but I think at the end of the day, system on a chip will limit expandability of your system as your system matures versus the standard media player options out there today.

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Digital Signage Specialist
West Virginia University

End User Council

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