Elemental Enhances its Software Defined Video, Preps for Greater Video Traffic Over IP

Keith Wymbs Elemental 4K SDV

Keith Wymbs, CMO of Elemental. Photo: Elemental

[Via Satellite 04-24-2014] Elemental Technologies has upgraded its Software Defined Video (SDV) solutions to run on multiple processing architectures including appliances, blade solutions, virtual machines and the cloud. SDV enables more efficient video streaming — one of the most bandwidth-hungry uses of satellite capacity. Over time the company expects the software approach to become more favorable than hardware by reducing the time needed to adopt new standards, driving the shift to higher quality video streaming.

“If standards evolve from 8-bit video to 10-bit video to 12-bit video, that can be a software change as opposed to having to wait for the next hardware-based approach,” said Keith Wymbs, CMO of Elemental. “Hardware has to go through development on the chip side, then integration into the overall hardware, and then deployment. Those cycle times take three years whereas software can be upgraded in a matter of days essentially.”

Ericsson’s virtualized Encoding Solution has integrated Elemental’s video processing technology as part of its move toward greater TV Anywhere services. The company anticipates that more than of 90 percent of video traffic will be sent using IP by 2015 and over tens of billions of different devices by 2020. This drives the need for better compression to ensure such content can be delivered by satellite. MobiTV has also selected Elemental’s service for cloud-based video delivery of more than 40 HD channels. These channels deliver live and on-demand content through multiple devices for pay-TV, wireless and OTT devices. Adobe Primetime likewise recently chose the company’s video processing platform to distribute content to IP-connected screens. According to Elemental, this approach “future proofs” infrastructure for advances such as High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC).

Now that the software approach is gaining traction, broadcasters are using it as a means to avoid arduous hardware overhauls. As the format for delivering video evolves, the methods by which it is sent and received by satellite will change too.

“The software approach eliminates a good amount of risk in their operations whether they go over satellite or not,” said Wymbs. “Standards traditionally have been very slow to be agreed to, adopted and rolled out in the video industry. Today the video industry is becoming more dominated by technology companies that are looking to help the industry move forward more rapidly.”

Wymbs added that pay-TV providers are willing use SDV to diversify their offerings without needing to remove hardware. It also further inclines broadcasters to share video content using broadband. Information Technology (IT) industries have been moving in the direction of software and away from hardware over the past few years, and that video processing has been slower because of the sheer algorithmic complexity of the task. Wymbs mentioned that customers are using SDV for MPEG2, MPEG4 and HEVC as a step towards more advanced video delivery.

“We think that it’s happening as well from a market perspective because of all the change that’s occurring,” said Wymbs. “As companies look to deliver video on the users’ terms on any device, for example, through apps instead of channel changes.”

While the majority of Elemental’s business is done in MPEG4, Wymbs said that HEVC has become a “pretty significant” part of its business over the last six months. The encoding company still compresses video in MPEG2 as well for Comcast and other customers based on request. Still, regardless of codec, customers are more readily looking to a software approach to streamline video compression.

“I see, at this point, very little hesitance,” he said. “As multiscreen, Over-The-Top (OTT) and TV-everywhere video delivery become more important for these businesses, the openness toward software-based approaches increases. To me, it seems like there are no barriers. It has come that far in just three years …  you’re seeing announcements coming out with the likes of Comcast and Netflix where they are essentially striking deals that cope with the need to deliver one, superior customer experiences to any device, and two, scalable infrastructure as the overall volume as the multiscreen market achieves mass adoption.”

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