Video processing architecture by AMD is basis for 5nm ASIC-MAC

The Alveo MA35D media accelerator card (MAC) by AMD, has two 5nm, ASIC-based video processing units to support the AV1 compression standard. According to the company, it is purpose-built to power a new era of live interactive streaming services at scale. 

AMD reported that more than 70 per cent of the global video market is dominated by live content and that a new class of low latency, high volume interactive streaming applications are emerging. These include watch parties, live shopping, online auctions and social streaming.

The Alveo MA35D media accelerator delivers high channel density, with up to 32x 1080p60 streams per card. It is also power efficient with low latency performance which are critical to reduce rising infrastructure costs required for scaling such compute intensive content delivery. Compared to the previous generation Alveo U30 media accelerator, the Alveo MA35D delivers up to four times higher channel density and lower latency by a factor of four and 1.8 times greater compression efficiency, to achieve the same VMAF score as a video quality metric.

Dan Gibbons, general manager of AECG data centre group, AMD, commented: “We developed the Alveo MA35D with an ASIC architecture tailored to meet the bespoke needs of these providers to reduce both capital and operating expenses for delivering immersive experiences to their users and content creators at scale.”

The Alveo MA35D uses a purpose-built VPU to accelerate the video pipeline. By performing all video processing functions on the VPU, data movement between the CPU and accelerator is minimised, reducing overall latency and maximising channel density with up to 32x 1080p60, 8x 4Kp60, or 4x 8Kp30 streams per card. It provides low latency support for the mainstream H.264 and H.265 codecs and features next-generation AV1 transcoder engines delivering up to a 52 per cent reduction in bit rate for bandwidth savings versus a comparable software implementation.

The accelerator features an integrated AI processor and dedicated video quality engines designed to improve the quality of experience at reduced bandwidth. The AI processor evaluates content, frame-by-frame, and dynamically adjusts encoder settings to improve perceived visual quality while minimising bit rate. Optimisation techniques include region-of-interest (ROI) encoding for text and face resolution, artifact detection to correct scenes with high levels of motion and complexity, and content-aware encoding for predictive insights for bit rate optimisation. 

Scaling high-volume streaming services requires maximizing the number of channels per server while minimizing power and bandwidth-per-stream. By delivering up to 32x 1080p60 streams per card at 1W per stream, a 1U rack server equipped with eight cards delivers up to 256 channels to maximis the number of streams per server, rack or data centre. 

The Alveo MA35D MAC is accessible with the AMD Media Acceleration software development kit, supporting the FFmpeg and Gstreamer video frameworks for ease of development.

Alveo MA35D media accelerators are sampling now with production shipments expected in Q3. To accelerate development, an Early Access Program is available to qualified customers with comprehensive documentation and software tools for architectural exploration.

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