Global Video Demand Requires New Hardware and Software Solutions

Millions of data centers and telecom towers strategically placed across the planet, over 885,000 kilometers of undersea cable, billions of devices, and nearly all of it in service of one thing: online video.

According to Cisco, IP video traffic will be 82 percent of all IP traffic in the world by 2022, increasing by four-fold since 2017. Video on demand alone is doubling in the same period, an amount equal to 10 billion DVDs per month. Service providers need platforms that can scale in order to accelerate services and meet what has become an insatiable demand. The vast majority of visual cloud services are delivered today on Intel® Xeon® Scalable processors, with powerful and flexible open source software delivering scalable transcode, analytics, and more. In some circumstances, hardware accelerators may be useful to address density and power requirements; for example, at the edge where latency and bandwidth are advantaged and power and real estate are at a premium.

Efficiently scaling video processing and distribution requires hardware and software optimized for specific workloads, and Intel is at the forefront of both, investing in scalable architectures to accelerate innovation.

Hardware Accelerators

At IBC 2019, Intel is proud to announce two new hardware products to help meet global video demand. Joining Intel’s diverse, world-class processors are two PCIe card accelerators specifically designed for visual cloud workloads.

First, the Intel® Visual Cloud Accelerator Card – Analytics (VCAC-A) is optimized for the highest density offload acceleration for use in network edge servers. The new acceleration solution combines both on-card decode and video inference acceleration, along with high efficiency, FP16 precision that can manage 24 streams at 1080p 30FPS, up to 144 streams per server with six cards.

Visual Cloud Accelerator Card

Second, the Intel® Visual Cloud Accelerator Card – Render (VCAC-R) is optimized for cloud gaming, graphics, VR, and virtual desktops. With high performance rendering and encoding, low latency, competitive 3D performance, and multiple Windows games per card, VCAC-R can handle four Windows game streams at 1080p 30FPS, and at 720p 30FPS can handle 20 Android game streams.

Visual Cloud Accelerator Card

Both accelerators are available today from our ODM partner Celestica and, like the previously released PCIE-7217 from SMART Embedded Computing (formerly Artesyn), are the result of Intel’s close collaboration with ecosystem partners to produce targeted hardware that can handle the most challenging demands of video delivery today.

In partnership with SMART Embedded Computing and Gamestream, Intel will host a cloud gaming demonstration at IBC this year to show how AAA games can achieve low latency (25ms including 10ms network latency) with the SMART Embedded Computing MaxCore™ rendering system, which can host up to 15 SMART EC PCIE-7217 cards, supporting up to 58 concurrent gamers.

Open Software

Hardware is only one half of the video delivery equation; software is just as important. I wrote a recent blog about how focusing on bit rate reduction through software can result in drastic TCO benefits. Intel continues to invest heavily in several software projects that target key steps along the data journey.

Open Visual Cloud leverages a modular interoperable approach to software supporting core decode, inference, render, and encode functionality with optimized open source ingredients such as Scalable Video Technology (SVT), OpenVINO™ Toolkit, and the oneAPI Rendering Framework. In addition, several different sample reference pipelines for visual cloud services are provided as Docker files and images so that service providers can get started quickly to deploy customized services without further platform investments.

Intel is updating two new Open Visual Cloud reference pipelines (provided as Docker containers) for release at IBC 2019, including:

  • Smart City: The smart city reference pipeline shows how to integrate various media building blocks, with analytics powered by the OpenVINO™ Toolkit, to accelerate converged media pipelines. This is a smart city planning sample that can be referenced to ease application development challenges.
  • Ad-insertion: The intelligent ad-insertion reference pipeline shows how to integrate various media building blocks, with analytics powered by the OpenVINO™ Toolkit, to accelerate converged media pipelines. This is a server-side ad insertion sample that can be referenced by developers, now supported on the Intel VCAC-A accelerator card.

Intel® Select Solutions

Of course it’s when hardware and software elements are strategically combined that the full potential of optimization can be realized. Intel® Select Solutions consist of optimized bundled hardware and software recipes to deploy workloads easily and meet performance thresholds for a premium customer experience. The first of these solutions for the visual cloud market was designed to meet the rapidly emerging needs for content delivery networks (CDNs). Intel® Select Solutions for Visual Cloud Delivery Network are now available through Quanta Cloud Technology.

At IBC 2019, we are continuing our commitment to these solutions by announcing that the new Intel® Select Solutions for Media Analytics powered by Intel® Xeon processors and Intel® QuickAssist Technology for software-enabled security, authentication, and compression will be available soon. Available in Base and Plus configurations, the Plus configuration will take advantage of the newly announced VCAC-A. Like all of the other Intel Select Solutions, the latest offering is a rigorously benchmark tested and verified solution optimized for real-world performance.

If you’re attending IBC2019, come to the Visual Cloud Conference on Friday, Sept 13th from 1:30 – 6:30 in RAI, Room E102. I will be speaking during the conference about the future of intelligent visual experiences. Be sure to stop by the Intel demo room (Hall 15 – MS30) to see all of Intel’s advancements in visual cloud.

If you’re not able to attend the conference in person, you can download the “IBC 360 Live” app on iOS App Store, Google Play, Oculus Go, or Oculus Gear VR Store to see presentations live or download after the event in 8k 360° VR thanks to a collaboration between several partners. For more information about Intel visual cloud solutions, visit intel.com/visualcloud.

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Lynn Comp

About Lynn Comp

​Lynn A. Comp, Vice President, Data Center Group, and General Manager, Visual Cloud Division, Network Platforms Group, is responsible for the P&L associated with visual cloud projects across the Intel Data Center Group (DCG), driving strategy development and execution across hardware and software to accelerate the delivery of solutions for graphics, media and video processing, immersive media, and video/media analytics. Comp joined Intel in 1999 as part of Intel's acquisition of Digital Semiconductor's StrongARM processor team, where she was responsible for both marketing and technical support of mobile system-on-a-chip designs. She has since applied her extensive experience in marketing, product management, product planning and strategy development to drive cross-domain and cross-industry innovation, from the early days of the Data Plane Development Kit (DPDK), through to the recent Intel® Xeon® Scalable processor launch. Comp has a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from Virginia Tech, and an MBA from University of Phoenix.