Graphics processors that are highly optimised for graphics processing are also very efficient for other media processing functions such as video transcoding. The latest processors for mobile, desktop and workstation platforms integrate high-performance graphic cores opening up new opportunities for systems with integrated media processing and other functions such as cryptography or control plane processing.
In this blog I am going to explore the benefits of using 3rd generation Intel® Core TM processors, Ivy Bridge, for video transcoding and other related applications. For this blog I have been talking to Paul Stevens, Telecom Sector Marketing Director for Advantech in Europe. Advantech is premier member of the Intel® Intelligent Systems Alliance. The 200-plus members of the Alliance collaborate closely with Intel® to create hardware, software, tools, and services to help speed intelligent systems to market.
Video transcoding is a key function required to provide video services to mobile and other network users allowing operators to add subscriber–specific logos and text overlays, advertisements and interactive user applications. The percentage of mobile traffic used by video services has been steadily increasing. According to the Cisco Visual Networking Index (VNI) Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast Update from February 2012, mobile video will increase 25-fold between 2011 and 2016 and will account for over 70 percent of total mobile data traffic by 2016.
Video transcoding has been traditionally implemented using dedicated hardware such as application-specific integrated circuits (ASIC) or digital signal processors (DSP). The latest systems need to support a wide range of media processing and other functions. This workload consolidation requires significantly more flexible solutions. The combination of general purpose Intel® architecture (IA) cores and integrated graphics processors that can be programmed for video transcoding and other media processing is both flexible and scalable.
Ivy Bridge Benefits
The 3rd generation Intel® Core TM processors, Ivy Bridge, integrate 2-8 IA processor cores with Intel® Hyper-Threading technology. Key benefits of most 3rd generation Intel® Core TM processors include Intel® Turbo boost technology and performance tuning, delivering high performance and low power consumption. Most 3rd generation Intel® Core TM processors also integrate AES instructions for security processing and Intel® HD Graphics 4000 with DirectX 11 support.
The Intel® HD Graphics 4000 on 3rd generation Intel® CoreTM processors is twice as fast as Intel® HD Graphics on 2nd generation Intel® Core™ processors. This processing power is also available for video transcoding and other media processing applications in systems where graphics is not required. Media processing applications can be optimised using the Intel® Media Software Development Kit (Intel® Media SDK 2012).
Intel® Media SDK 2012
The Intel® media SDK 2012 is a cross-platform application programming interface (AP) for developing media applications. The Intel® media SDK 2012 supports the hardware accelerated video encoding, decoding and transcoding provided by the Intel® HD graphics 4000 integrated into the third generation Intel® CoreTM processors. The Intel® media SDK 2012 significantly reduces the development time for media applications that take advantage of the underlying hardware performance. The Intel® media SDK 2012 supports a range of Codecs and features including H.264, MPEG-2 and MVC video encoders and decoders and various video processing filters.
AMC and MicroTCA
The AdvancedMC (AMC) module is a flexible form factor for a wide range of embedded applications including telecom. AMC modules can be used in proprietary systems or standard platforms such as MicroTCA and AdvancedTCA (ATCA).
Figure 1. Advantech MIC-5603 Processor AMC
The Advantech MIC-5603 Processor AMC module is shown in Figure 1 is based on the 3rd generation Intel® Core TM i7 processors. The module has an optional front panel HDMI port that is connected to the processors integrated Intel® HD 4000 graphics core. The solution supports DirectX v11, OpenGL v3.1 and OpenCL v1.1. The Advantech MIC-5603 Processor AMC module can be programmed for transcoding and other media applications using the Intel® media SDK 2012 and readily available software.
Larger systems can be built using a MicroTCA chassis as shown in Figure 2. A single MicroTCA chassis will support up to 12 AMC modules.
Figure 2. MicroTCA Chassis
Integrated Graphics Enables New Applications
The integration of Intel® HD Graphics 4000 into the 3rd generation Intel® Core TM processors opens up new opportunities for system developers. By using processor AMCs , such as the Advantech MIC-5603 Processor AMC module, and the Intel® media SDK 2012, system developers can quickly integrate video transcoding capabilities into mobile network systems and other solutions. The high level of video processing performance enables ‘transcoding on the fly’ of multiple HD video streams per processor. This ability to transcode, reformat, modify and manipulate video streams within the mobile network infrastructure is the foundation for new, value added services allowing the operator to develop applications that combines subscriber, and network and location information to enhance the user’s video experience.
To learn more about advanced signal processing, see intel.com/go/embedded-analytics
Advantech is a premier member of the Intel® Intelligent Systems Alliance.
Roving Reporter (Intel® Contractor), Intel® Embedded Alliance
Principal Consultant, Earlswood Marketing
Follow me on Twitter: @simon_stanley