Xilinx targets high-quality, low cost live video streaming

2 mins read

Xilinx has introduced two real-time computing video appliances for easy-to-scale, ultra-high-density video transcoding applications.

Based on Xilinx's Real-Time (RT) Server reference architecture, these appliances enable applications such as eSports and game streaming platforms, social and video conferencing, live distance learning, telemedicine and live broadcast video to optimise video quality.

Designed for edge and on-premise compute-intensive workloads where video channel density, throughput and latency are critical, these Xilinx Real-Time Video Appliances feature optimised hardware architectures and software to deliver high channel density and low latency performance.

The appliances are available in two pre-configured options integrating Xilinx Alveo data centre accelerator cards - the High Channel Density Video Appliance and the Ultra-Low Bitrate Video Appliance.

“As the volume of video streaming increases exponentially, optimised architectures are becoming critical,” said Donna Yasay, vice president of marketing, Data Center Group, at Xilinx. “We’re all experiencing this today in the current COVID-19 remote work, learn and play environment -- the massive increase in concurrent channel usage is taxing service provider business models and driving up bandwidth costs. With these new reference architectures, Xilinx is enabling solution providers to maximize cost savings, while delivering high-quality video streaming services.”

The High Channel Density Video Appliance integrates up to eight Alveo U30 data centre acceleration cards. The Alveo U30 card addresses the need for high-density video processing in a low-profile form factor accelerator card. The card is powered by the Zynq UltraScale+ MPSoC, a power-optimised all-programmable system-on-chip (SoC) with integrated video codec and graphics engines for ultra-high-definition video. The U30 card supports both the H.264 and HEVC (H.265) codecs and is capable of streaming up to sixteen 1080p30 channels per card.

The Ultra-Low Bitrate Optimised Video Appliance is purpose-built for high-quality live video while reducing bandwidth costs. It contains up to eight Alveo U50 accelerator cards. Built on Xilinx UltraScale+ architecture and packaged in an efficient 75-watt, low-profile form factor, the Alveo U50 card includes 8GB HBM2, 100GbE networking and a PCI Express 4.0 interconnect. It is capable of streaming up to seven full-HD 1080p60 channels along with eight full ABR ladders (all at x265 medium preset.

These new appliances are built on the FFmpeg framework to allow for rapid replacement of existing software and GPGPU-based transcoder infrastructure by providing system developers with a common API. The HEVC codec is rebuilt from the ground up in a componentised manner to allow for better control of the codec down to the frame level. This allows system integrators to adjust rate control and fine-tune other parameters to optimise video quality and bitrate to suit the particular end application. This unique flexibility offered by adaptive compute devices is not possible with ASIC-based options. Both appliances offer up to a 4x reduction in cost, footprint, and power for H.264 at 1080p30 resolution and x264 medium preset.

The Xilinx RT Server reference architectures are built with optimised hardware architectures and software stacks, from the gate-level up to the software and AI stacks, to maximize performance for specific workloads.

Available in a 1RU rackmount form factor, both appliances support complete Docker container and Kubernetes management capability to enable easy scale-out deployments.