Transforming media is today the single largest consumer
of compute power. From the point of creation to the point
of consumption, video content goes through multiple
transformations, each of which is highly compute intensive.
Between those points, storage and communication media
dictate the need for multiple transformations. These include
codec and bitrate changes, HDR processing, video scaling,
transrating to adaptive bitrate bundles, and so forth.
As video streaming over the internet developed,
conventional wisdom was that spinning up servers to handle
this load was the most flexible and cost-effective approach.
The sheer scale of video traffic has reached the point
where new applications are limited by the traditional server
paradigm. Social media allows each of us to tell our stories
to friends and relatives. We are all our own TV stations, and
as more and more of us broadcast, the processing load to
transform the media we create is becoming cost-prohibitive
even to the largest and best-funded media companies.
ARE TODAY’S DATA CENTER SERVERS
THE RIGHT SOLUTION?
Despite software being the fashionable answer, it is
always hardware that comes to the rescue when costs are
in play. The internet is inundated with live user videos,
playback of user-generated content, live streaming of
events, widespread distribution of entertainment, gaming,
video chat, etc. Spinning up servers to handle the compute
load for encoding, scaling, transcoding, format conversion,
etc. is no longer viable. Hardware acceleration is a must.
The 1RU rack, limited to 1K W, cannot be stuffed with
server CPUs or GPUs. Power and space play a big role in the
OPEX equation, and it is well established that application
specific hardware is the answer to CAPEX headaches.
THE HYBRID CAR PARADIGM
Socionext was formed by merging the semiconductor
businesses of Fujitsu and Panasonic. The company is a
market leader in video technology, from action
cameras and d SLRs to TV and Blu-ray, and
powers high-end broadcast systems and
mass-market IOT devices.
In applying dense transcode ICs used in
broadcast to the cloud server application,
Socionext’s engineers faced challenges including
power, density, compatibility, cost, etc. The list
seemed endless, and impossibly difficult.
The breakthrough came when the company
adopted the hybrid car paradigm to video
processing in the data center. Hybrid cars are
popular because they resemble and function
like gas-powered cars, and yet they are
incredibly fuel-efficient and save money.
The hybrid model Socionext engineers
adopted with server partners has a sea of
transcode ICs ( 32 to be specific) densely packed
into a 1RU server, under the hood of a Xeon E5
CPU. The server chassis has a familiar form factor
Chips In The Cloud
The Democratization of Media Transformation