Transcoding for Optimal Video Consumption

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Video now plays an important role in the communication of all types of information. With basically a TV in each persons hand in the form of a cell phone, together with desktops, laptops and tablets, consumers all over the world can view video in real time or whenever someone has the time to do so. This has brought about a number of challenges, as users now demand and have come to expect an experience similar to watching their large screen HDTV at home. The different network speeds, coupled with the wide range of resolutions has open up opportunities for companies to provide very fast transcoding of the video, in real time, and then push that content eventually to consumers.

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Video streams may constructed using various standards, which contain information such as resolution, frame rate, color depth, etc. It is the job of the transcoder to take in one format and produce another format that would then be used downstream. Popular video formats include H.264 and MPEG-2, among others. While an application could be written that does the transformation, optimizing the application such that it is efficient and take advantage of the hardware beneath it requires the expertise of the hardware manufacturer. There are instruction sets to consider as well as core counts and thus threading as well as communication with the memory system.

The Intel Media SDK is a software library that is used to develop video applications and has the latest encoding and decoding algorithms built in. It is an API that can be used with different operating systems that accelerates applications that rely on video as their main component. An application that is written with this API can be assured that the underlying hardware is being taken advantage of and the performance will be the highest possible based on the CPUs in the system.  Image processing of the video stream can also be performed in real time leading to new insights. Also, audio encoding and decoding is supported by the Intel Media SK.

An example of the need for such solutions is when there is a major sporting event, such as the Olympics which are seen by millions if not billions of people worldwide. In today’s environment where so much video is consumed on such a wide variety of devices, efficient and reliable video systems were required in order to distribute the video of the events. Gone are the days of one size of video resolution fits all, as now there are significant differing devices that must receive the video, over many types of networks, both fast and slow.

The Intel Media SDK was crucial for organizations to process the massive amounts of video that were generated at the Olympics and to be able to deliver the content worldwide in real time. While the underlying hardware must be sufficient to handle the computing demands, tune software is also critical to ensure the expected end user experience.

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