IBM and BI to unveil new HD encoding technology capable of streaming HD media under 3Mbps

Broadcast International today announced it will demonstrate live HD video encoding under 3 Mbps at the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) conference in Las Vegas next week. The demonstration at the Broadcast International booth, (# SU 14310) marks the first time in the broadcast industry video will be encoded from a live camera feed at this rate of video compression.

Until now, most HD video has been transmitted at the MPEG 2 standard of 19.4 Mbps. By compressing video to under 3Mbps, Broadcast International enables video providers to reduce their bandwidth needs by more than 80 percent for HD quality and pack more video into less bandwidth. Conservation of limited bandwidth resources has become a critical requirement in the broadcast, cable, satellite, mobile and IPTV markets, especially as bandwidth-intensive, high-definition video becomes the industry standard.

“The ability to squeeze more video onto less bandwidth is the number one priority in the industry,” said Rod Tiede, CEO of Broadcast International, in the press release. “Even a 20 percent reduction in bandwidth is seen as a breakthrough. Our demonstrations shatter the bandwidth barrier completely, offering unprecedented compression and transcoding in both live and real-time environments. That’s the industry’s holy grail.”

Broadcast International will also demonstrate real-time video encoding and transcoding, translating video from one format to another, in IBM booth # SU 3614 where its CodecSys video compression software will be integrated with the IBM Media Hub Solution Framework, IBM’s services oriented architecture (SOA)-based solution for the media and entertainment industry that is designed to manage the increasing complexity of running a content-focused business from the point of creation to the distribution of digital content. In this demonstration, which emulates a production broadcast environment, a variety of content, from live sportscasts to archived footage, will be encoded and transcoded in real-time for delivery over multiple modes of distribution to cellphones, laptops, and large-screen format HDTVs.

The real-time transcoding is necessary to deal with the complexity caused by the scores of file formats, bit rates, screen resolutions, and audio and video codecs involved in the video distribution process. A single piece of video, for example, may need to be transcoded dozens of times for the mobile and Internet distribution channels alone. Capabilities such as real-time transcoding are critical if video content is to become ubiquitous across all media delivery platforms.

IBM’s Cell multi-core processor accelerates video compression and transcoding

The NAB demonstrations utilize Broadcast International’s patented CodecSys video compression software running on the IBM BladeCenter® QS21 server. In December 2007, Broadcast International announced a license agreement with IBM. The agreement covers Broadcast International’s CodecSys video compression software running on the Cell Broadband Engine (Cell/B.E.) multi-core processor and the IBM BladeCenter QS21 server. The combined technologies promise to change the video distribution world by making it possible for cable, satellite or IPTV providers to deliver live HDTV at compression levels four to six times higher than is currently possible.

“We are constantly striving to provide innovative solutions to our customers,” said Jim Comfort, vice president, IBM Systems and Technology Group, in the press release. “The IBM BladeCenter QS21, based on the multi-core Cell Broadband Engine processor, is designed to yield quicker application results, enabling organizations to get information faster in order to facilitate important business decisions. In combination with Broadcast International’s CodecSys software, this game-changing technology solution will have a profound impact on the video distribution industry.”

“This combination of the incredibly powerful Cell Broadband Engine, IBM Bladecenter QS21 and BI’s completely new approach to encoding, using multiple expert encoders in parallel, will change the entire economics of the video industry overnight,” said Peter White, CEO of Rethink Research Associates in the U.K., and contributing analyst for Multimedia Research Group, in the press release.

Unmatched video compression

CodecSys utilizes a patented, multi-codec approach in which a video stream is analyzed and the codec best-suited for a particular frame or video sequence is automatically selected from an entire library of specialized codecs.

These specialist codecs are designed to handle particular types of high-bandwidth video frames or streams, such as fast-motion sequences in a basketball game or explosions in an action movie. These types of video are extremely bandwidth-intensive and pose chokepoints to generalist codecs. By selecting the best expert codec for the job, CodecSys is able to eliminate these chokepoints and offer performance several times higher than competitive products based on general-purpose codecs.

The Cell/B.E. processor accelerates the CodecSys compression and codec-switching process, providing a platform for nearly unlimited processing power and video compression capabilities. The combined technologies deliver live HDTV at compression levels four to six times higher than is currently possible.

A “future-proof” solution

One of the key benefits of the CodecSys software approach is CodecSys-based encoders can be easily changed as standards and requirements evolve. With CodecSys, codecs can be upgraded and added through simple, cost-effective software downloads. Other commercial solutions based on embedded systems require costly, full replacement. The underlying IBM multi-core hardware platform is also highly programmable and scalable, enabling users to add additional processing power by simply adding extra processors.

This upgradeable, “future-proof” approach eliminates the need for the costly replacement cycles required with encoders based on tightly-coupled hardware/software architectures.

“Right now,” said Tiede, “there are literally billions of dollars in video compression infrastructure that will have to be thrown away when new standards like h.264 are adopted. You don’t have to throw out your computer every time Microsoft launches a new version of software. Why should you have to throw away a $50,000 piece of equipment like an encoder? It just doesn’t make sense.”

For more information:

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “ron” for the heads up.]


  1. Hey!

    Here’s an idea..

    Instead of spending all this money on research on ways to compress the image, make the data rate smaller and thus, the picture more crappy, why not just invest in the infrastructure to carry HD as it was intended?

    MD magic word: through

    Like I’m through with having the internet service of a third world country.

  2. Right ON! jitnol…

    You know, that would entail the government and industry cooperating and actually doing something.

    The problem here is the infrastructure here is so antiquated, it would be easier to rip it all out and start from scratch than try to”upgrade” the existing wires and pipelines.

    Third world countries were lucky to have missed the entire 19th century robber baron centralized build-up and control of everything. So, they got to start out with late 20th century technologies of fibre-optics and satellites instead of upgrades to cast iron and steam power.

  3. Yes, every time I think of an African nation, “lucky” is the first word that comes to mind. ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”rolleyes” style=”border:0;” />

    That, and “obesity.”

  4. LOL I agree with R all the way.

    The answer is not to rip anything out, its to create new infrastructure based on a wireless protocol. We need to stop running wires all over the place when the technology is here to transmit high speed signals through the air.

  5. Wireless data transmission will never catch fiber optics or other wired forms of data transmission.

    I agree completely with jltnol. Stop compressing everything. All it does is dilute the picture and therefore ruin the whole purpose for HD. The only true way to get full HD is to watch a move on Blu-ray. Most broadcast TV is either 720i or 720p. Some are now 1080i, but none are 1080p. All other commercial forms use extensive compression.

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