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Technology Issues

The Shrinking Broadcast Spectrum

UHF stations have recently completed a $10B auction-off of their over-air frequencies. The large majority of these stations have chosen to enter into a Channel Sharing Agreement (CSA) with a local VHF station, splitting the VHF station's channel into two halves, each with its own license. The obvious question is: Under a CSA, how is it possible to split one VHF channel to serve the needs of two stations? Clearly, either each CSA partner will both have to get by on a half-ration of bandwidth, or new efficiences must be found. Fortunately, there is both a simple and highly effective efficiency available; namely, for the CSA partners to switch from ATSC 1.0 MPEG-2 compression technology to MPEG-4 compression technology for over-air distribution. Since an MPEG-4 stream requires only about one-third the bandwidth of the same stream compressed with MPEG-2, this shift would enable each to do more in their respective half-channel than was previously possible in a whole channel. But, while MPEG-4 packets are typically transmitted via an MPEG-2 signal, who can receive this sort of hybrid signal over air? Everybody? Most? Some? Few? None? Is there a better solution? Click the link to download our discussion of The Shrinking Broadcast Spectrum. If you have an opinion you want to share, leave a comment above.

Ultra High Definition (UHD) Resolutions

For 50 years, broadcasters got by with a single "Standard Definition" (SD) resolution standard, transmitted as an analog signal. Then, in the 1990s, two new "High Definition" (HD) resolution standards were introduced, enabled by new digital transmission technology. But, if anyone thought the new HD standards would last for the next 50 years, they were badly mistaken. Even before the SD-to-HD transition could be fully implemented, two progressively higher resolution standards were already on the books: 4K, with 4X the resolution of HD (aka "2K"), and 8K, with another 4X resolution gain over 4K. And nothing prevents a possible 16K standard, with 4X the resolution of 8K. And so on. Is there any end to this potentially endless sequence of resolution upgrades? Click the link to download our white paper on Beyond HD: How Ultra Can UHD Resolutions Go? to see our attempt to resolve this question. If you have an opinion you want to share, leave a comment above.

Encoding Problems and Solutions

Have a problem? Looking for a solution? If you're wondering how to maximize encoding efficiency, see our brief on Video Compression: Types & Tradeoffs. If you see stuttering when you compress video, see our brief on Video Stuttering: Cause & Cure. Otherwise, if you have a general question about a bothersome encoding problem, use the comment box above to post your issue. If possible, we'll write up one of our encoding briefs on the topic, and post it in this section.

General Interest Questions

Wondering why video has to be digital? Check out our Q&A on Digital Video: Pros & Cons. Wondering how important camera megapixel ratings really are? Check out our Q&A on Megapixel Ratings. Have a question you haven't been able to answer? Use the comment box above to post your query. If we know the answer, we'll post it as one of our on-going series of Q&As in this section.

Telairity Encoders: Better Technology Top-to-Bottom

The Telairity Edge

Prominent among Telairity’s distinctions is the fact that the company has leveraged its roots in the semiconductor industry to create the TVP video processor, targeted to video encoding. Since its launch in 2007, each generation of TVP video processors has implemented an increasing number of multiple identical, loosely-coupled vector processing cores, supplemented by special function units targeted to accelerating the most common compression computations. Each core, in turn, comprises five separate execution engines—four capable of dispatching two instructions per clock cycle. Summing up the compute power in Telairity's new "Nexgen" TVP video processors yields a staggering total of 168 billion operations per second.

To complement this custom chip design, Telairity also has invested in creating AVClairity encoding software, expressly designed to run directly on the TVP video processor—avoiding the overhead of an operating system on the one hand, while harnessing all the horsepower available in the TVP chip on the other hand. The fact that encoder functions are implemented in Telairity’s AVClairity software, rather than hardwired into the video processor, makes Telairity encoders fully field upgradeable via a simple download. At the same time, the fact that Telairity’s AVClairity encoder software runs directly on Telairity’s video processor, without any need for an intervening operating system, reduces the latency of all encoding operations, improves system responsiveness, and also eliminates a significant potential source of problems.

Although Telairity’s investment in encoding technology begins with basic chip and software technology, the driving purpose behind this investment is the ability to create unique, purpose-built encoding systems. The fact that Telairity controls all the relevant technology used in its systems, from the video processor through the system enclosure, also gives the company exceptional custom engineering capabilities, allowing it to turn new designs, able to meet highly specialized requirements, in a fraction of the time required by other companies.

In summary, then, a Telairity-designed board incorporating up to 8 Telairity’s TVP video processor yields enormous raw horsepower, efficiently applied to H.264/AVC compression by Telairity’s custom AVClairity encoding software. When incorporated into a custom Telairity enclosure, the result is a very powerful encoding system, capable of generating quality images using minimal bits in just a few frames of latency, designed specifically to meet the special requirements of its target market. As a bonus, Telairity systems are highly reliable, run very quietly, and boot up within three seconds of power on. Indeed, enough room is left over inside the compact 1RU system enclosure used for all Telairity encoders to allow for dual redundant power supplies, further augmenting the overall robustness of Telairity systems.

In short, the direct consequence of Telairity’s top-to-bottom investment in technology is exceptionally powerful, fast, and reliable encoding platforms. For customers, the end result of this investment is a family of HD and SD H.264/AVC encoders that offer a value proposition unmatched by any other H.264/AVC encoders available on the market today.