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2012

From its high quality video to its excellent cost efficiency and scalability, digital security and surveillance (DSS) is no longer the future. It’s the status quo. Although analog cameras are still available and in use, they’re increasingly being pulled into hybrid DSS systems based on IP technology. What this means for designers and system integrators of DSS systems is that the focus is shifting from needing to convince customers to switch to DSS technology to helping them instead design the most reliable, best-performing systems possible for handling high-definition (HD) video, gigabits per second (Gbps) bandwidth, and petabytes of storage.

 

This can be a challenge for larger systems, such as ones that must handle up to 1,000 channels of real-time, HD (1080p at 30 frame per second) video processing, as well as video streaming, video tagging, and storage tasks—all while operating reliably 24/7 365 days a year. Meeting such demands requires fast processing and high throughput. In this post, I want to look into how the latest Intel® Xeon® processors based on Intel’s Sandy Bridge microarchitecture help meet these demands and several products that use these processors from Intel® Intelligent Systems Alliance member Super Micro Computer, Inc.

 

Meeting the Bandwidth Demands

DSS solutions for large installations are composed of many different hardware and software components (see Figure 1). In this post, I’m confining myself to one of the hardest working components, the recording server.

 

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Figure 1. Diagram of the components of a large-scale DSS system. (Illustration courtesy of Milestone Systems, a global leader in IP video management software and manufacturer of the Milestone XProtect* line of video management software.)

 

In large DSS systems, recording servers take the place of the network video recorders used in small installations. These recording servers are designed to handle more video channels, as well as greater video encoding/decoding and server-based (as opposed to edge-based) video analytics workloads. Recording servers handle first-day storage duties and transfers to long-term storage, plus should provide scalability to handle potential growth.

 

Bandwidth for a 1,000-channel IP camera surveillance system is quite substantial. At 5 megabits per second (Mbps) per stream, 1,000 channels requires approximately 5 Gbps of system throughput from end-to-end—from recording server to storage system. To reduce latency in such systems, the Intel® Xeon® processor E5-2600 product family includes a number of innovative features.

 

The first is Intel® Integrated I/O (see Figure 2). Where previous processors used a separate I/O controller on the motherboard, these processors merge the I/O controller directly onto the processor die to reduce latency by up to 30 percent over the previous generation Intel® Xeon® processor 5600 series. This enables data movement to and from the processor faster than ever before.

 

Another I/O improvement is Intel® Data Direct I/O. This technology allows Intel® Ethernet controllers and other adapters to route I/O traffic directly to the processor cache. In a traditional I/O transfer from the network interface, data must first be moved and stored in main memory—only then is it stored in cache for main processing. When processing is complete, the data is sent back to cache, and once again moved to main memory before being transferred out to the network interface. In re-architecting the flow of I/O data in the processor, Intel Data Direct I/O dedicates a portion of cache to I/O. This allows data to be transferred directly to cache from the network interface, bypassing main memory completely to reduce I/O latency. The same is true on the reverse trip when the processed data is transferred directly from the cache to the network interface. This results in significantly improved I/O performance and reduced I/O latency. In addition, it reduces system power by substantially decreasing the number of power-consuming main memory accesses.

 

A third I/O improvement is support for PCI Express (PCIe) 3.0. This latest industry specification doubles the bandwidth per link to greatly boost I/O throughput. Each processor has 40 PCIe Gen 3.0 lanes (compared with 36 for the previous generation) for up to 80 lanes in a two-socket system.

 

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Figure 2. Throughput enhancements of the Intel® Xeon® processor E5-2600 product family.

 

To further pump up bandwidth (see Figure 3), the Intel Xeon processor E5 series features:

  • Up to 16 cores in a two-socket system
  • Intel® Hyper-Threading (HT) Technology for up to 32 threads in a two-socket system
  • A ring topology enable all cores to access last level cache simultaneously
  • Eight channels of DDR3 1600 MHz in a two-socket system (compared to six channels in the previous generation) for up to 33% greater memory bandwidth
  • Up to two Intel® QuickPath Interconnect links between sockets to speed up data transfer between processors and maximize multi-core processor performance.

 

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Figure 3. Dual-socket  configurations of Intel® Xeon® processor E5-2600 series-based platforms include a wide variety of enhancements that make them ideal for compute-intensive, high bandwidth video surveillance workloads.


Processing Performance

To keep up with video encoding and decoding and ensure real-time video display and viewing capabilities, recording server performance is critical. Performance is also important for providing real-time video analytics when tasked with that chore as well.

 

Transcoding applications requires a tremendous amount of compute performance to deliver real-time viewing from large numbers of cameras. In the past, expensive digital signal processors (DSPs) were the

preferred choice for high-end encoding, but today’s multi-core Intel® architecture processors are providing a compelling alternative by supplying exceptional computing horsepower, along with extensive software flexibility and excellent cost savings. Software encoding also future-proofs the platform, providing greater investment protection. For example, performing encoding and decoding in software makes  it easier to support new video formats without requiring any hardware changes.

 

Intel Xeon processors offer video decoding/encoding flexibility through a software approach, enabling a wide variety of video formats, such as MPEG4 and H.264, to be implemented on a server platform. This enables DSS system designers to choose their preferred formats. What’s more, platforms can be easily upgraded when more advanced codec formats become available in the future.

 

Supporting up to eight cores per processor and up to 768GB of system memory, the Intel® Xeon® processor E5 product families increase performance by up to 80 percent compared to the previous generation. Some contributors to this performance gain, in addition to the already mentioned Intel HT Technology, include:

 

  • Intel® Turbo Boost Technology 2.0. This feature automatically increases processor and individual core frequencies to take advantage of available power and thermal headroom to give more performance when it’s needed and greater power efficiency. Intel Turbo Boost 2.0 in the Xeon processor E5-2600 product family enables higher turbo speeds than the previous generation. The top Intel Xeon processor 5690 with one active core could only turbo up to 266 MHz. In comparison, the E5-2690 can increase frequency up to 900 MHz on a single active core.
  • Intel® Advanced Vector Extensions (Intel® AVX). These instructions double the size of the register used to process the instruction to 256 bits. This speeds up image, audio and video processing, enabling twice the amount of work in the same clock cycle as the previous generation.
  • Intel® Advanced Encryption Standard–New Instructions (Intel® AES-NI). Incorporating the latest release of Intel AES-NI, the Intel Xeon processor E5-2600 family enables faster, more efficient encryption/decryption performance without increasing overhead. This can be an important performance feature in DSS systems seeking to secure video files.

 

Example of an Optimized Recording Server Solution

Supermicro provides a wide variety of embedded servers that are application-optimized, cost-effective and ideal for applications such as DSS recording servers and network video recorders (NVRs). Based on the Intel Xeon processor E5-2600 family, these highly dense yet compact server designs provide excellent networking, storage and I/O expansion capabilities. What’s more, Supermicro includes a number of high-efficiency power supply options and thermal design features to save energy, operate at lower decibels, and minimize system power consumption.

 

The 4U Supermicro 6047R-TXRF is a prime example (see Figure 4). This dual-socket SuperServer* uses the Intel® Xeon® processor E5-2600 family to deliver high throughput for video streams. The server provides real-time recording, processing and mass storage of security footage from a large number of cameras through support for up to 512GB of memory in 16x DIMMs, 5x 3.5” hot-swap SAS2/SATA3 hard drive bays, 3x 5.25” peripheral drive bays (replaceable with an 8x 2.5” hot-swap HDD module—CSE-M28SAB-OEM), SAS2/SATA3 (6Gbps) controller, and integrated RAID capabilities. The included Intel® i350 dual-port Gigabit Ethernet provides excellent connectivity and performance, supporting 10BASE-T, 100BASE-TX, and 1000BASE-T RJ45 output. What’s more, with its MBD-X9DRX+-F motherboard with 11x PCIe slots, this SuperServer offers flexible expansion for 10GbE LAN, as well as additional SAS/RAID controllers, while still providing plenty of slots for additional video feeds. With redundant high-efficiency power supplies, advanced cooling options, and hot-swappable 8x HDD module for easy archiving, this system provides high availability for the most demanding, mission critical DSS applications.

 

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Figure 4. Supermicro 11x PCI Slot SuperServer SYS-6047R-TXRF, HDD Expansion Module (CSE-M28SAB-OEM), and included motherboard MBD-X9DRX+-F.

 

For a look at the wide range of embedded server building block solutions Supermicro offers developers, visit www.supermicro.com/Embedded.

 

Have some thoughts on what makes the ideal recording server? Please send them my way.

 

security_analytics[1].pngTo learn more about DSS solutions based on Intel processors, read Intel’s end-to-end guide on Building Digital Security & Surveillance Systems Based on Intel Technology.

 

Supermicro is an Affiliate member of the Intel® Intelligent Systems Alliance. Milestone Systems is a General member of the Alliance.

 

Mark Scantlebury

Roving Reporter (Intel Contractor), Intel® Intelligent Systems Alliance

Associate Editor, Embedded Innovator magazine

By Marcel Moelands, OEM Enterprise Lead EMEA, Dell OEM Solutions

Now in the era of Cloud Computing, service providers are in the position to develop OTT content to be delivered to their user database, while leveraging the efficiency, scalability, easy of deployment and flexibility of Cloud based network appliances. This means that instead of relying on other content providers and absorbing the costs associated with additional bandwidth and reliability, they can provide benefits natively within their network.

For example, imagine that you were trying to decide between two phones and associated Service Providers with relatively similar features except one Service Provider also offers a Mobile Office Environment and Data Store providing secure access to your Business from the palm of your hands. That is one example of a Value Service that could be provided by a service provider.

The different approach to handling OTT is definitely a game changer for service providers and Dell OEM has the knowledge, enterprise components, software and services to assist Network Equipment Providers in designing systems to accommodate such changes.

Let me take you through what we have seen over the last several years.

First, what is OTT content?

Rich content such video and audio delivered to your mobile phone, applications such as Youtube, Skype, online email, and other applications that created new paradigms in communications for which service providers are not involved in control or distribution the Telecommunications Industry calls Over-the-top, or OTT.

Evolution of OTT content impacts to service providers

OTT content made its first entry into the mobile market with the introduction of Smartphones. As users enjoyed being able to carry their favorite desktop applications around the adoption rate grew beyond expectations.

Historically even though service providers such as AT&T, Verizon, Vodafone etc… did not own the OTT services they were expected by their subscribers to deliver the best user experience in terms of performance, quality and uptime of the OTT content. For example, if there is a problem with your Youtube video or Facebook app or your Angry Birds game is loading slowly, your first instinct as a consumer is to blame your service provider.

Moving forward, consumed bandwidth for OTT is set to become a challenge to service providers especially with the next generation of Networks (LTE or 4th generation) being deployed widely. The LTE promise for more bandwidth will result in increased expectations for performance and quality per user for delivered content. The vicious circle completes, but it gets a bit worse….. Most subscribers enjoy plans with fixed fees and unlimited data rates, so service providers aren’t earning extra income from all the additional consumed bandwidth.

Future to differentiate for mobile phone carriers

Service providers own the delivery network and so they have the opportunity to turn the tables on the trend started by OTT providers in which service providers become a pure data transporter. Service providers can establish their brands by delivering value services such as Video-on-Demand, High Quality Video Conferencing, Cloud Based Applications, etc. The Cloud Era allows them to do this very efficient, fast and flexible. By integrating Content Delivery Appliances into the network, user experience can even be lifted beyond today’s standards.

With Dell Data Center Solutions and OEM Solutions, the Network Equipment Providers enjoy a solid partner to assist them in designing for OTT content handling. Dell is by far the largest provider of Hyperscale servers in the world with a huge track record of serving large Data Centers across the globe and Dell OEM Solutions is ready to assist Network Equipment Providers in designing, delivering and supporting Content Delivery Appliances.

To learn more about our Dell Telecommunication capabilities or about designing for OTT services, please fill out our contact form or tweet us at @delloem.

Dell is an Associate member of the Intel® Intelligent Systems Alliance

Embedded control systems drive the critical and complex industrial machinery necessary to turn raw materials into finished goods in a factory environment. These systems must be designed for maximum reliability in order to avoid the high costs and lengthy delays involved with a production line shutdown, repair, and restart. To extend the uptime of these systems, designers have traditionally employed redundant hardware such as sensors and actuators that can be automatically substituted in the event of a failure. As factory control systems combine functionality and increase complexity to speed operation and lower overheads, designers are now employing similar measures to respond to and correct software malfunctions. To simplify this failover process and to extend the availability of industrial applications, Intel has developed a number of technologies built directly into the latest generation processor architecture.

 

Intel® vPro™ Technology includes hardware support for remote management, virtualization, and platform security functions that can be used to extend the uptime of industrial embedded systems.  For example, Intel® Virtualization Technology (Intel® VT) increases system performance and reliability with hardware support for virtualization software to simplify the transfer of data and control between virtual operating systems.  If a system becomes disabled due to a software or operating system failure, a virtual backup can automatically take control and start execution without user intervention. Virtualization can also be used for hardware substitution by invoking a virtual layer that uses a modified set of I/O devices. Intel® VT improves the performance of software-based virtualization operations by using hardware-assist to allocate memory and I/O devices to specific partitions to decrease the processor load and reduce virtual machine switching times.

Intel® Active Management Technology (Intel® AMT) is another Intel® vPro element that delivers certificate-based security allowing remote access to the embedded system for management and security tasks even when the system is powered off. This technology gives device support personnel a low cost technique to monitor operation, perform diagnostics, deliver product training, and manage required software updates from a remote location. In the event of a software failure, Intel® AMT enables a remote boot from an external operating system image over the network even if the system kernel has been completely corrupted. Most of this reboot process can be done with automated scripting and little human interaction which can significantly lower system downtime. Intel® AMT can also be used manually to insert redundant systems to maintain uninterrupted production while support teams perform required preventative maintenance on mechanical systems.

 

Several Intel® Intelligent Systems Alliance members offer off-the-shelf, board-level products supporting Intel® vPro and Intel® AMT Technology that designers can use to develop high-reliability systems for industrial applications. For example, The NORCO MITX-6922 motherboard supports the 3rd Generation Intel® Core™ processor architecture and targets industrial automation systems along with digital signage, retail, and transportation applications (See figure 1).  The board features up to 8GB of DDR3 SO-DIMM RAM, six COM ports, eight USB 2.0 connectors, High Definition Audio, two Gigabit LAN ports, plus four and sixteen lane PCI-Express connections. The board offers multiple display options including VGA, DVI-D, HDMI, LVDS video outputs and supports dual independent displays. In addition, the video output is complemented by three audio jacks. As well as Intel® vPro and Intel® AMT 8.0, the board also features Intel® Turbo Boost and Intel® Rapid Storage Technology.

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The high performance Intel® Xeon® processor E3 architecture also features Intel® vPro and Intel® AMT technologies to support the extended availability requirements of industrial applications.  Taking advantage of a 15% CPU performance increase and lower power consumption than the previous generation, DFI-ITOX recently introduced the CL630-CRM ATX motherboard based on the Intel® Xeon® Processor E3-1200v2 Family (See figure 2). As you can see in the block diagram, the ATX board supports the new Intel® C216 Express chipset with a large selection of I/O features to simplify system designs supporting redundant hardware. The CL630-CRM also features the integrated Intel® HD Graphics 4000 engine delivering up to 50% 3D graphics performance improvement with high definition images presented simultaneously to three independent displays. . Performance is further increased through the introduction of Intel® Advanced Vector Extensions (AVX) to the instruction set, providing acceleration of complex audio, video, and image processing.

cl630 block.PNG


A key strategy for building reliable systems in industrial applications is to eliminate single points of failure. By adding redundant hardware and software for critical functions, designers can provide systems that greatly improve the uptime statistics in critical production settings. If you think that Intel® vPro and Intel® AMT technologies can improve performance of your industrial project please share your concerns, questions, and successes with fellow followers of the Intel® Embedded Community. You can also keep up with the latest technical articles and product announcements at the Embedded Computing Design archives on Intel vPro AMT.

industrial.pngTo learn more about the design of industrial systems, see “Top Picks – Industrial

 

To view other community content on performance, see "Performance - Top Picks
 
Warren Webb
OpenSystems Media®, by special arrangement with the Intel® Intelligent Systems Alliance

 

DFI-ITOX and NORCO are Associate members of the by Intel® Intelligent Systems Alliance.

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