New Intel Visual Compute Accelerator Makes Its Debut

For service providers, the rapid momentum of video streaming is both a plus and a minus.  On the plus side, millions of consumers are now looking to service providers to deliver content they used to access through other channels. That’s all good news for the business model and the bottom line.

On the minus side, service providers now have to meet the growing demands of bandwidth-hungry video streams, including new 4K media streaming formats. As I mentioned in a recent blog post, Video Processing Doesn’t Have To Kill the Data Center, today’s 4K streams come with a mind-boggling 8 million pixels per frame. And if you think today’s video workloads are bad, just stayed turned for more. Within five years, video will consume 80 percent of the world’s Internet bandwidth.

While meeting today’s growing bandwidth demands, service providers simultaneously have to deal with an ever-larger range of end-user devices with wide variances in their bit rates and bandwidth requirements. When customers order up videos, service providers have to be poised to deliver the goods in many different ways, which forces them to store multiple copies of content—driving up storage costs.

At Intel, we are working to help service providers solve the challenges of the minus side of this equation so they can gain greater benefits from the plus side. To that end, we are rolling out a new processing solution that promises to accelerate video transcoding workloads while helping service providers contain their total cost of ownership.

This solution, announced today at the IBC 2015 conference in Amsterdam, is called the Intel® Visual Compute Accelerator. It’s an Intel® Xeon® processor E3 based media processing PCI Express* (PCIe*) add-in card that brings media and graphics capabilities into Intel® Xeon® processor E5 based servers. We’re talking about 4K Ultra High Definition (UHD) media processing capabilities.

A few specifics: The card contains three Intel Xeon processor E3 v4 CPUs, which each contain the Intel® Iris™ Pro graphics P6300 GPU. Placing these CPUs on a Gen3 x16 PCIe card provides high throughput and low latency when moving data to and from the card.


The Intel Visual Compute Accelerator is designed for cloud and communications service providers who are implementing High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC), which is expected to be needed for 4K/UHD videos, and Advanced Video Coding (AVC) media processing solutions, whether in the cloud or in their networks.

We expect that the Intel Visual Compute Accelerator will provide customers with excellent TCO when looking at cost per watts per transcode. Having both a CPU and a GPU on the same chip (as compared to just a GPU) enables ISVs to build solutions that improve software quality while accelerating high-end media transcoding workloads.

If you happen to be at IBC 2015 this week, you can get a firsthand look at the power of the Intel Visual Compute Accelerator in the Intel booth – hall 4, stand B72. We are showing a media processing software solution from Vantrix*, one of our ISV partners, that is running inside a dual-core Intel Xeon processor E5 based Intel® Server System with the Intel Visual Compute Accelerator card installed. The demonstration shows the Intel Visual Compute Accelerator transcoding using both the HEVC and AVC codecs at different bit-rates intended for different devices and networks.

Vantrix is just one of several Intel partners who are building solutions around the Intel Visual Compute Accelerator. Other ISVs who have their solutions running on the Intel Visual Compute Accelerator include ATEME, Ittiam, Vanguard Video* and Haivision*—and you can expect more names to be added to this list soon.

Our hardware partners are also jumping on board. Dell, Supermicro, and Advantech* are among the OEMs that plan to integrate the Intel Visual Compute Accelerator into their server product lines.

The ecosystem support for the Intel VCA signals that industry demand for solutions to address media workloads is high. Intel is working to meet those needs with the Intel Xeon processor E3 v4 with integrated Intel Iris Pro graphics. Partners including HP, Supermicro, Kontron, and Quanta have all released Xeon processor E3 solutions for dense environments, while Artseyn* also has a PCI Express based accelerator add in card similar to the Intel VCA. These Xeon processor E3 solutions all offer improved TCO and competitive performance across a variety of workloads.

To see the Intel Visual Compute Accelerator demo at IBC 215, stop into the Intel booth, No. 4B72. Or to learn more about the card right now, visit