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Choosing a Codec for Greener Streaming

What are the current innovations in reducing the carbon emissions and the carbon footprint of streaming? Jan Ozer, Principal, Streaming Learning Center, and Contributing Editor, Streaming Media, asks two industry experts about the innovations and new technologies their organizations are using in order to lessen the environmental impact of streaming.

What are you hearing from your developers and what are you hearing from inside AWS in terms of the importance of attempting to address that from a codec selection standpoint?” Ozer asks Kevin Yao, Global Principal Solution Architect for Direct to Consumer, Media and Entertainment Solutions, AWS.

“That’s a very good topic,” Yao says. “If we look at video, it accounts for over 60%, if not more, of downstream traffic on the internet. There are a lot of energy resources being used for encoding and decoding the content. And in addition, we have to consider how much energy is used to deliver [content] across fiber to end users. So, there's some optimization done.”

Yao discusses these various optimization approaches, which include content-based encoding combined with ARML to predict large-scale traffic patterns based on time periods and end-user preferences. “So, Saturday morning cartoons, for example, or Sunday night football,” he says. He then goes into further detail about encoding. “At AWS, we have Graviton Processors, which is an Arm64-based processor, and to help customers reduce their carbon footprint. Graviton3 was announced, and Graviton3-based instances used 60% less energy than compared to the same performance of the x86-based EC2 instances.” He elaborates that during last year’s AWS re:Invent conference, “We ran x264, a very slow preset input, with uncompressed 1080p material. We see about 49% per frame per second, compared to the previous gen, C6g, to the current-gen Graviton3 C7g instances.”

Yao says that in terms of sustainability in general, “Workload running on AWS are 80% more carboning efficient compared to running our customers’ own data center. And as part of our commitment to a net zero carbon future, we're investing more power into our operations with 100% renewable energy by 2025.”

David Ronca, Director, Video Encoding, Facebook, says, “We have to redefine the system to lower the baseline that we're working from. We are investing significantly in ASIC-driven processing and we’re very happy with the quality we're seeing. And we're going to continue to push that. Google, for example, has released white papers on the ASICs they;ve deployed. So I think there's a role then for ASIC as well. So this gives us an opportunity, I think, across multiple dimensions to actually reduce the inherent or fixed complexity of the systems so that we can continue to reduce the energy consumed, and I think it's good that we're looking to clean energy sources. We do have a lot of responsibility, and I think the industry is very serious about that. And I'm really happy with the work that I'm seeing--everything from lower-power CPUs to ASICs and more efficient codecs.”

With SVT-AV1, Ronca says, “You basically have a dial you can turn, so you can select the energy cost of your compute to do an encode based on the likely value that that video will provide in the market. So, you can bring it down to compete with x264 very fast while still significantly reducing the bits. And so to me, these are all great things. I think that we're all aware of the power consumption problem of the data center growth, and we're all working on it. And I'm excited by what I'm seeing.”

Learn more about the greening of streaming at Streaming Media West 2022.

Watch full-session videos from Streaming Media Connect 2022.

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