New media applications such as virtual reality (VR) and 8K are introducing computing challenges from a resolution perspective and from a codec perspective. Combine that with the increasing ubiquity of cloud computing, and you have the perfect conditions for the evolution of better video technologies.Source: SMPTE.com
AT A GLANCE:
4K and 8K video and VR require so much computing power to handle the high resolutions and complex codecs that broadcasters are turning to cloud-based encoding, which can take advantage of both hardware and software solutions to handle the load.
Storage and broadcasting of HD video require a combination of appliance-based and software-based encoding, making cloud-based encoding, which utilizes both, the solution for the future.
As resolution has increased, the codecs have had to improve in efficiency just as quickly. Broadcasters are utilizing new and more complex codecs, such as AVC, HEVC (50% better than AVC), AV1 (equal to or better than HEVC) and VVC (still under development, but aiming to be 50% better than HEVC). Using these codecs, broadcasters can handle 4K, 8K and VR, “but because adaptive streaming requires multi-resolution synchronized encoding, the delivery of next-generation video codecs has become even more challenging.”
The complexity of each increasingly higher level of video resolution is the driving factor for the development of new and more dynamic technology. “UHD-1 [4K] is about 18 times as complex as HD, but the technologies required to cope with UHD-2 (8K) broadcasting and VR could be as much as 384 times as complex as HD.”
While encoding of UHD-1 for live broadcasting is possible, it is not practical just yet. “For a UHD-1 encoder, the video needs to be split into 10 tiles, each being mapped into one node. This creates some overhead in computation and the compression efficiency side, estimated to be about 15% versus single-frame encoding.”
Each new codec requires ever more computing power, making the management of on-site CPUs and GPUs unworkable. Cloud-based encoding is the way forward, allowing processing to be spread among as many different CPUs or even as many nodes as needed for shifting live broadcasting requirements. “The encoding of the most challenging content will preempt more cycles, with lower complexity channels using reduced quality requiring fewer cycles. This process is, of course, dynamic and changes in function based on evolving content complexity.”
With access to more computing resources, cloud-based encoding can handle each successively higher video resolution better than appliance-based solutions. This points towards broadcasting moving away from in-house hardware and software to leveraging the variable power and capacity of cloud service
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