Intel Senior Software Engineer Sravanthi Kota Venkata talks with Steve Waskul about Intel® Media Server Studio, for which she serves as the Key Media Technologist.
The Intel® Media Server Studio provides encoding, decoding, and transcoding interfaces (all in one) to assist the content developer. Taking care of the underlying platform acceleration processes both on the hardware side and software side, the Intel® Media Server Studio is essentially middleware, that which sits on an Intel platform. Sravanthi describes the technology as both a horizontal and vertical product. Horizontally, the product can work with anything in the spectrum from mobile to data center to analyze performance. Vertically, she describes it as a comprehensive suite with a software development kit (SDK) part and a debugging/quality verification part. Waskul intuits that developers would use the SDK to expose the capability of underlying hardware and leverage the efforts Intel has invested in developing it to provide new features and speed to their customers. Venkata continues that the debugging and quality verification part of the Intel® Media Server Studio allows for the developer to visually and scientifically inspect the quality of a video frame by frame. Waskul inquires how this is done scientifically. The technology calculates the PSNR value, which is done by taking the raw video stream as a baseline and comparing it with the compressed version of the video in the various codecs. It then determines what amount of noise exists in the video by codec. That really helps, Steve comments, when you have a target bit rate, which many do and want the best possible customer experience.
The underlying architecture is what allows the Intel® Media Server Studio to function with remarkable power. Venkata explains that the technology has “six function logic” that executes all processes, freeing developers from the stress of figuring out what the GPU versus CPU optimization is for performance as it monitors the efficiency itself, and allowing them to do more with the code. The Media Server Studio comes with an openCL code builder that helps the developer in maximizing the code.
“In your role, you get to see a lot of cutting edge technology,” Steve comments. What is it, he asks her, she finds most exciting for the future of media? “I’m an engineer at heart,” she smiles, “so when I see a challenging problem, I get excited.” She then names the promise of H.265 as the most exciting challenge to conquer. Higher compression without loss of quality that’s an “interesting” problem to solve, she says. “You need to have extensive computation to achieve it.” But, the impact and the promise she describes is groundbreaking for the field of media: being able to transmit 4k from one part of the world to the other part without burning the bandwidth. So far, in their work, they’ve “comfortably achieved” 30fps on High Efficiency Video Codec (HEVC) for 4k, but they’re continuing the work. She’s very motivated by the statement that Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, made that in five years, the content of Facebook will be mostly video. What remains challenging for his company is building the infrastructure to handle that.
Waskul asks a follow up question on the future, “On the mobile side, with the processors that are in place now, are they powerful enough to do this [h.265] decoding?… or will we go with h.264 for quite a while?” “It’s coming,” she states and she summarizes Intel’s story for media. Whether you are acquiring, creating, managing, distributing or experiencing media, Intel has a solution for you.