How Software Encoder Performance Improves Streaming Quality Mark Donnigan VP Marketing Beamr

Read the original LinkedIn article here: How Video Encoder Computing Efficiency Can Impact Streaming Service Quality

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Mark Donnigan is Vice President of Marketing for Beamr, a high-performance video encoding technology company.

Computer system software is the bedrock of every function and department in the business; accordingly, software video encoding is essential to video streaming service operations. It's possible to optimize a video codec execution and video encoder for 2 but seldom 3 of the pillars. It does state that to deliver the quality of video experience customers anticipate, video distributors will need to assess industrial services that have been performance optimized for high core counts and multi-threaded processors such as those readily available from AMD and Intel.

With so much upheaval in the circulation design and go-to-market company strategies for streaming entertainment video services, it may be tempting to push down the top priority stack choice of brand-new, more effective software video encoders. With software eating the video encoding function, compute performance is now the oxygen required to prosper and win versus an increasingly competitive and crowded direct-to-consumer (D2C) marketplace.

How Video Encoder Computing Efficiency Can Impact Streaming Service Quality

Up until public clouds and ubiquitous computing turned software-based video operations mainstream, the process of video encoding was performed with purpose-built hardware.

And then, software application consumed the hardware ...

Marc Andreessen, the co-founder of Netscape and a16z the famed venture capital firm with financial investments in Foursquare, Skype, Twitter, box, Lyft, Airbnb, and other similarly disruptive business, penned a post for the Wall Street Journal in 2011 entitled "Why Software application Is Consuming The World." A variation of this post can be found on the website here.

"Six decades into the computer system transformation, 4 years considering that the development of the microprocessor, and twenty years into the rise of the contemporary Internet, all of the technology needed to change markets through software finally works and can be widely provided at international scale." Marc Andreessen
In following with Marc Andreessen's prediction, today, software-based video encoders have almost totally subsumed video encoding hardware. With software application applications devoid of purpose-built hardware and able to run on ubiquitous computing platforms like Intel and AMD based x86 makers, in the data-center and virtual environments, it is totally precise to say that "software is eating (or more properly, has actually eaten) the world."

What does this mean for a technology or video operations executive?

Computer software application is the bedrock of every function and department in the enterprise; accordingly, software video encoding is necessary to video streaming service operations. Software video encoders can scale without needing a direct boost in physical area and energies, unlike hardware.

When dealing with software-based video encoding, the three pillars that every video encoding engineer should address are bitrate performance, quality conservation, and computing performance.

It's possible to enhance a video codec implementation and video encoder for 2 but rarely three of the pillars. A lot of video encoding operations hence focus on quality and bitrate efficiency, leaving the compute efficiency vector open as a sort of wild card. As you will see, this is no longer a competitive technique.

The next frontier is software computing efficiency.

Bitrate efficiency with high video quality needs resource-intensive tools, which will cause slow functional speed or a significant increase in CPU overhead. For a live encoding application where the encoder need to operate at high speed to reach 60 frames-per-second (FPS), a compromise in bitrate performance or absolute quality is often needed.

Codec complexity, such as that required by HEVC, AV1, and the forthcoming VVC, is surpassing bitrate performance developments and this has created the requirement for video encoder efficiency optimization. Put another method, speed matters. Traditionally, this is not a location that video encoding professionals and image researchers have actually required to be interested in, but that is no longer the case.

Figure 1 illustrates the advantages of a software encoding application, which, when all characteristics are stabilized, such as FPS and unbiased quality metrics, can do two times as much deal with the specific very same AWS EC2 C5.18 xlarge circumstances.

In this example, the open-source encoders x264 and x265 are compared to Beamr's AVC and HEVC encoders, Beamr 4, and Beamr 5.

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For services requiring to encode live 4Kp60, one can see that it is possible with Beamr 5 but not with x265. Beamr 5 set to the x264 comparable 'ultrafast' mode can encode 4 specific streams on a single AWS EC2 C5.18 xlarge circumstances while x265 operating in 'ultrafast' can not reach 60 FPS at 4K. As you can see in this poignant example, codec efficiency is directly related to the quality of service as a result of less makers and less complex encoding frameworks required.

For those services who are mostly worried about VOD and H. 264, the ideal half of the Figure 1 graphic programs the performance advantage of an efficiency enhanced codec application that is set up to produce very high quality with a high bitrate performance. Here one can see approximately a 2x benefit with Beamr 4 compared to x264.

Video encoding compute resources cost genuine money.

OPEX is thought about carefully by every video supplier. Expect entertainment experiences like live 4K streaming can not be delivered reliably as a result of an inequality between the video operations ability and the expectation of the customer.

Since of efficiency limitations with how the open-source encoder x265 uses compute cores, it is not possible to encode a live 4Kp60 video stream on a single device. This does not imply that live 4K encoding in software application isn't possible. It does state that to deliver the quality of video experience customers expect, video distributors will need to examine business services that have actually been performance optimized for high core counts and multi-threaded processors such as those readily available from AMD and Intel.

The need for software to be enhanced for higher core counts was just recently highlighted by AMD CTO Mark Papermaster in an interview with Tom's Hardware.

Video distributors wishing to utilize software for the versatility and virtualization choices they provide will experience overly complicated engineering obstacles unless they pick encoding engines where multi-processor scaling is belonging to the architecture of the software encoder.
Here is an article that shows the speed advantage of Beamr 5 over x265.

Things to think of worrying computing performance and performance:

Do not go after the next more advanced codec without thinking about first the complexity/efficiency ratio. Dave Ronca, who led the encoding group at Netflix for ten years and just recently left to sign up with Facebook in a similar capability, recently published an outstanding article on the topic of codec intricacy titled, "Encoder Intricacy Strikes the Wall." It's appealing to think this is just a problem for video banners with tens or hundreds of millions of subscribers, the same compromise factors to consider must be considered regardless of the size of your operations. A 30% bitrate cost savings for a 1 Mbps 480p H. 264 profile will return a 300 Kbps bandwidth savings. While a 30% cost savings at 1080p (H. 264), which is encoded at 3.5 Click Here Mbps, will offer more than triple the return, at a 1 Mbps cost savings. The point is, we should carefully and systematically think about where we are spending our compute resources to get the maximum ROI possible.
A business software service will be constructed by a dedicated codec engineering team that can balance the requirements of bitrate efficiency, quality, and calculate efficiency. This remains in stark contrast to open-source jobs where contributors have different and specific priorities and programs. Precisely why the architecture of x264 and x265 can not scale. It was constructed to accomplish a various set of tradeoffs.
Insist internal groups and experts perform calculate performance benchmarking on all software encoding solutions under consideration. The three vectors to determine are absolute speed (FPS), individual stream density when FPS is held consistent, and the total variety of channels that can be produced on a single server utilizing a nominal ABR stack such as 4K, 1080p, 720p, 480p, and 360p. All encoders must produce similar video quality throughout all tests.
The next time your technical group prepares a video encoder shoot out, make certain to ask what their test strategy is for benchmarking the calculate effectiveness (performance) of each solution. With a lot turmoil in the distribution model and go-to-market company plans for streaming home entertainment video services, it may be tempting to lower the concern stack choice of new, more efficient software application video encoders. However, surrendering this work might have a real impact on a service's competitiveness and capability to scale to satisfy future entertainment service requirements. With software application consuming the video encoding function, compute performance is now the oxygen required to flourish and win versus an increasingly competitive and crowded direct-to-consumer (D2C) market.

You can experiment with Beamr's software video encoders today and get up to 100 hours of totally free HEVC and H. 264 video transcoding monthly. CLICK HERE

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