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In May, BLUEDOT's AV1 codec performed well in the MSU report. BLUEDOT submitted a FPGA based high-performance AV1 codec and it ranked third, with a staggering 19% performance difference from Intel, which was ranked fourth. How did a small domestic technology company manage to be in the top 10 and rank higher than big tech companies such as Intel and Nvidia?
What is MSU Report?
The MSU Report is an independent evaluation of the performance and quality of video codecs, a recognized authority in the evaluation of video codecs and image processing technologies. The MSU Report includes test results and benchmarks from each codec developer that participated in the codec evaluation and provides information to compare and analyze the performance and quality of each codec.
BLUEDOT participated in the 'Hardware Encoder' category of the video codec evaluation program organized by MSU. A total of 14 codec products including HEVC and AV1 from global companies such as 'x265', 'Intel', 'NVIDIA', 'AMD', 'Tencent', and 'ByteDance' were evaluated, including BLUEDOT's AV1 codec. And BLUEDOT was able to achieve a stellar 3rd place finish amongst the stiff competition.
BLUEDOT’s AV1 codec, “Pulsar-AV1”
BLUEDOT's 'Pulsar-AV1' is a hardware encoder developed based on the highly efficient video codec 'AV1' developed by AOMedia (Alliance for Open Media).
Since its release in 2018, AV1 has been Rapidly becoming commercialized, with Chrome, Firefox, and Safari all support it. Many people are calling AV1 as "next generation codec" and embracing it because it is twice as compressive as the existing h.264, has higher quality, and follows open standards such as HEVC and VV1, so there are no license fees. However, AV1 is slow to encode, requiring high computing costs and user terminals currently rely on software AV1 decoders. Recognizing these shortcomings, codec experts are working to improve the AV1 codec and accelerate its adoption, including the release of hardware based AV1 encoder and decoder chips.
How to BLUEDOT’s “Pulsar-AV1“ranked third competed with Intel, Nvidia?
MSU evaluated the quality of a video by applying the submitted codec to a specific video. The video is selected by considering the temporal and spatial complexity, and the quality of the video is evaluated by measuring the image quality and encoding speed for the same bitrate. PSNR, SSIM, and VMAF are used as image quality evaluation metrics, and the BDRate is calculated based on them for the final evaluation.
BLUEDOT's 'Pulsar-AV1' is a hardware-based encoder designed for FPGAs. It is capable of real-time video processing 1080p60 video and guarantees 'x265 slow preset' quality. It also supports various GOP structures, RateControl Mode, and low latency encoding functions, so it can be used for live broadcasting as well as video streaming platforms. BLUEDOT's 'Pulsar-AV1' was developed over a period of about three years, starting with initial AV1 codec research, followed by reference designs, image quality evaluation, algorithm advancement, and hardware model design and optimization, and FPGA selected to achieve high performance along with fast encoding speeds. BLUEDOT worked closely with software and hardware engineers to develop a high-performance codec and accelerate it on a semiconductor, resulting in a high-performance AV1 encoder that was ranked third in the MSU report.
Our next step is “Transcoding for the data center.”
When BLUEDOT developed its hardware AV1 encoder, it chose an FPGA because it is programmable and could achieve high processing speeds to lower network costs. While it was good enough, BLUEDOT decided to develop a codec that could achieve even greater performance than an FPGA. ASICs have a higher processing speed than FPGAs because their functions are more purposeful. Therefore, developing ASIC-oriented codec IP has the advantage of being able to process target resolutions faster, maximizing efficiency. BLUEDOT's ASIC-oriented codec IP is for data centers. it is optimized for 'transcoding', which converts videos in different formats into highly efficient compressed codecs (H.264, H.265, AV1), so it will be possible to stably provide a huge amount of video data that is rapidly increasing in each network environment.
Every technology has its shortcomings, and experts research ways to compensate for the shortcomings and develop better technologies. And BLUEDOT's 'Pulsar-AV1' also had its shortcomings, and BLUEDOT began to research new technologies to compensate for them. With the ever-increasing video traffic, BLUEDOT will continue to challenge itself to reduce network costs and efficiently utilize the given network environment.
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