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Elemental to Test 4K HEVC MPEG-DASH in NAB Demo with Akamai

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After news last week that it would partner with Sony and Level 3 to demonstrate a world-first real-time encode of a 4K stream over a content delivery network, Elemental Technologies announced today it will also partner in a similar project with Akamai.

Both demos will take place next week at NAB, and both pair an HEVC software implementation with adaptive bitrate solution MPEG-DASH. Akamai's test will run 4K p60 frame rate, while Level 3's will show 4K p30.

The Level 3 demo features live playback of a cinematic 4K short captured by Sony Pictures Entertainment’s F55 camera, encoded in Elemental technology and routed over Level 3's network from New York to Las Vegas, with final rendering on a 65-inch Sony 4K Bravia TV at the Elemental and Level 3 booths.

Elemental will be showing wider interoperability of 4K HEVC with chipset and set-top box vendors at the show, including implementations with ViXS chipsets and with Broadcom and France's Sagemcom.

“We're the fastest-growing video processing supplier on the market,” claims Elemental's marketing chief Keith Wymbs, pointing to the vendor's 25 partnerships at NAB2014 which is triple that of 2013. “When we're doing demos of real-time live processing of 4K HEVC p60, it's a real demo. I sense from press events that other people are skirting around that. We are the only ones able to do this type of processing and create a demonstration with end-to-end interoperability. Before any type of commercial deployment these type of tests are important so that interested parties can say that they have demoed it and that it does work.”

To counter the limited amount of 4K content in the market, Elemental has even shot its own footage, including Major League Soccer games and the Nutcracker ballet performed in Portland.

Wymbs says the company is actively involved with rightsholders in 4K demos during the FIFA World Cup in Brazil. Sony and FIFA are to record three matches from the finals, including the final match, in 4K and make it available for broadcasters to test transmit.

“There will be a number of operators pushing the ecosystem during the World Cup and we are looking forward to playing a small part in thee early trials.”

In related NAB news, the company is claiming to be the first software video processor to integrate into Ericsson Virtualized Encoding (EVE). Described as the industry's first unified software solution designed to remove the complexity of TV Anywhere video processing, EVE can be implemented on processing platforms containing a combination of dedicated programmable hardware such as Ericsson’s video processing chip, in customer premises and software or GPU-based servers on premise, or potentially deployed in the cloud.

“Ericsson's strategy is to go to the top end of the market of the world's largest operators,” says Wymbs. “Sometimes that's a hardware solution based on ASIC and other times it's based on software. We tend to think the needle is pointing toward the software side but we recognise that's not true for every single application today, so EVE gives customer's that level of choice.”

Elemental is further using NAB to trumpet a new customer in MobiTV whose customers include AT&T, Deutsche Telekom, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon. It will power the California-based operator's advance into live and on-demand multi-screen services. Elemental Server will be deployed on the file encoding side for movie assets and clips while Elemental Live will be installed for live streaming of MobiTV's 40+ HD channels.

Traditionally a GPU-accelerated video processing provider, Elemental has also revealed plans to extend its platform for use in CPU environments. These include any Intel-based processor as well as virtualised infrastructure on top of blade environments and the ability to work in the cloud.

“Some customers are saying to us that they've already deployed CPU servers and blade environments with a different type of software stack, like a database or CRM software, and wonder if they can reuse that asset with Elemental software processing,” says Wymbs. “Now the answer is yes because by extending our platform's capabilities into CPU, customers don't have to worry about swapping out the physical infrastructure they already have in place.”

Another reason the company has gone this route, it says, is to cater for market requirements for less resource intensive applications. “For us to do heavy lifting in the cloud we needed a cost effective solution for edge applications where there is less processing,” says Wymbs.

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