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7 February 2019

SRT adoption births new Haivision 4K encoder for indoors and out

Live encoding expert Haivision has unveiled the Makito X4 encoder, a 4K UHD capable bit of kit powered by the vendor’s new HEVC/H.264 programmable 8 core encoding engine. The result is support for 4K UHD or quad HD at a full 60 frames per second with HDR support, and this ability to pack so much bang into such a small package is testament to the development of the Secure Reliable Transport (SRT) protocol, which Haivision drummed up an orchestra about during a chat a few months back.

Although targeted primarily at broadcast production studios for on-the-go encoding capabilities, Haivision has also marketed the Makito X4 as suitable for at-home production workflows – branching outside its core market in doing so. We first got to know Haivision as a company which removes the need for cloud transcoding by packing in full ABR cascades in HEVC or H.264 into small form factor appliances for remote live events such as interviews.

Crucially, the Makito X4 offers the company’s highest available encoding density at up to 84 HD inputs (or 21 4K/UHD inputs) and 168 encoding cores in a single 4RU chassis. Its compact form factor allows less than 30 watts per encoder blade and less than 8 watts per HD channel of high performance encoding.

This is significant with NAB just a couple of months away, where Faultline Online Reporter will be on the ground, marking two years since SRT was open sourced, and today the new low latency video streaming technology is being pegged as the dominant protocol in the space. Industry giants across the spectrum are adopting SRT – from mass media conglomerates like Viacom who generally swerve discussing components like streaming protocols, to cloud titans like AWS who we have been reliably informed is on the verge of joining the SRT Alliance. Most recently, in November, the SRT Alliance welcomed Comcast Technology Solutions and Ooyala. This could set the stage for some major SRT-related announcements from Las Vegas in April.

The project, which was jointly founded by Haivision along with Wowza, aims to continuously develop the technology stack for low latency streaming across any network, to and across cloud-based infrastructures.

Part of SRT’s momentum has come from its content agnosticism, working with any codec, with the exception of the emerging AV1 codec which currently isn’t on Haivision’s radar. The company told us recently that AV1 is extremely compute intensive so it will focus on HEVC until demand is there. Of course, TCP, which is used in ABR by Apple HLS, DASH, Adobe HDS and Microsoft Smooth Streaming, is also content agnostic, as is UDP. But SRT’s main selling point is allowing for both packet resends and different levels of forward error correction, depending on the condition of the network.

“Broadcasters are thirsty for content and new ways to reduce costs, and need to have their eye on 4K content workflows,” said Peter Maag, CMO at Haivision. “We developed the Makito X4 in part to allow broadcasters to centralize their high value production teams and to reduce on-site event investments whether working in HD or 4K.”