High Density Streaming Made Easy with Wowza Streaming Engine + AMD Alveo U30April 25, 2023
Demand for high-density video streaming is increasing and some organizations may feel excluded due to the cost and infrastructure requirements needed to scale. But with increased demand comes increased innovation. At NAB 2023, Wowza and AMD announced a collaborative effort that should come as good news to anyone looking to scale their streams in a way that is at once cost-effective and eco-friendly.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at what high-density streaming really means, how it affects your business, and what you can do to reach a wider audience in a way that is both practically and economically manageable.
What is High Density Streaming?
First, let’s separate the concept of “scaling” from that of “high-density streaming”. Scaling can happen in a handful of different ways, but it all comes to the same thing: increasing the size of your operation, be it through a greater number of viewers, greater number of streams, or both. This is challenging for many businesses because no matter how you slice it, you’re looking at more demand on your streaming infrastructure, which can negatively impact the quality and reliability of your streams. Scaling can be something you plan for or something you do on the fly in response to unexpected viewership spikes.
High-density streaming refers to the act of sending multiple streams from a single server or IP address. This method of streaming can be challenging as it can put considerable strain on a given server. However, the alternative would be to add more servers, leading to higher environmental impact and higher costs. Basically, when faced with the need to scale, organizations must choose whether to engage in high-density streaming and risk server strain that leads to poor stream reliability or invest in a larger on-premises infrastructure.
What Role Do Compression and Transcoding Play?
Video compression, also known as video encoding, is the process by which media files are reduced in size for transmission over a network. Smaller files can be sent more quickly, making this an important consideration for anyone looking to live stream. Ideally, this would be done at no cost to the video’s quality, but that’s not always the case. Therein lies the challenge for streamers looking to send high volumes of streams. They sometimes have to choose between the quality of the video on the viewer’s end and the speed with which that video travels.
Transcoding is the process by which already compressed (encoded) video is unencoded (decompressed) and then re-encoded for last mile delivery. In this way, a video’s bitrate, frame size, or format can be altered before continuing its journey. This is particularly useful in workflows that involve adaptive bitrate streaming (ABR) as it allows for on the spot transcoding of bitrates in response to fluctuations in viewer bandwidth.
Highly efficient compression and transcoding does more than just make it possible to stream at low latency with minimal risk to quality. It also makes effective high-density streaming possible. After all, you can send more streams if those streams are taking up less space. Anyone looking to send a high volume of streams simultaneously from a single location, live or otherwise, benefits from technology that can more efficiently package and repackage their media.
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Introducing Wowza Streaming Engine with Alveo U30
What does all of this have to do with Wowza and AMD’s recent collaboration? By integrating AMD’s Alveo U30 transcoding accelerator card and the Video SDK into Wowza Streaming Engine, the two companies have made high-density streaming more efficient and therefore more cost-effective and eco-friendlier.
The Alveo U30 card provides highly efficient compression and transcoding, dramatically increasing the number of streams that a single server can process. In other words, companies that don’t want to or can’t invest in additional infrastructure to accommodate their need to scale now don’t have to. Their existing on-prem equipment can more reliably handle their scaling needs. Together, AMD’s hardware and Wowza’s software provide a platform that makes high-density video streaming a more viable option for companies of any size.
Overall Benefits of This Technology
Practically speaking, this technology means a single server can process more streams. But the implications of this development are far greater than just reducing strain on your server. It means you need fewer hardware components and overall servers to accomplish your streaming goals, which lowers the costs to your business without sacrificing quality or reliability.
Fewer hardware components and greater stream efficiency also contributes to greener streaming, but how? Servers take energy to manufacture and run. Fewer servers means fewer materials and less energy demand. Granted this may feel like a drop in the bucket compared to the vast network of servers already in play for companies worldwide, but every little bit counts when it comes to building a world around efficiency over consumption.
Highly efficient compression and transcoding also plays into low latency. While latency is not always a concern for organizations, it can be critical for specific use cases, especially those involving interactive components.
Finally, streaming affordability is streaming accessibility. Streaming at both scale and quality does not need to be limited to those with the deepest pockets.
- High efficiency
Uses Cases for High Efficiency Streaming
Certainly, anyone looking to stream affordably and effectively to a larger audience can benefit from this solution. Specially, live and interactive streaming benefit from the lower latency. Broadcasts that seek to send simultaneous streams from a single location benefit from the highly efficient compression. Examples include:
- Live Enterprise Events – These types of events frequently require numerous simultaneous live (and sometimes interactive) streams at high quality, hence the need for highly efficient compression.
- Gaming and eSports – This is another place where interactivity and quality of video both matter, making low-latency, high-quality video a must.
- Military – While the military may not be looking to stream to a generalized audience, they sometimes need highly efficient, low-latency streaming for mission critical needs requiring specialized equipment across great distances.
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How To Start
If you are an existing Wowza Streaming Engine customer and you want to learn how to take advantage of the Alveo U30 card in your solution, then check out the following:
- Our Alveo U30 getting started guide
- AMD page for acquiring an Alveo U30 card
If you are not yet a Wowza Streaming Engine customer but this innovation has piqued your interest, you can still explore the resources above, but also consider a free trial of Wowza Streaming Engine.
Other Ways to Green Your Stream
Wowza will soon be announcing general availability for our hybrid solution featuring Wowza Streaming Engine software alongside cloud-based tools, such as content delivery network (CDN), end-to-end analytics, and Flowplayer, our best-in-class video player. This provides companies that require some on-premises processing the ability to take advantage of our cloud offerings to better refine their streaming solution to their needs. By taking advantage of our infrastructure through the cloud, these companies can also lower costs and promote eco-friendly streaming.
Streaming technology evolves quickly. Don’t get left behind and partner with a solution that drives innovation, listens to customer needs, and will bring you along for the ride.