ActiveVideo and Intel: How to fit 7M STBs into a closet

Ronald Brockmann — CTO

What’s the connection between a bedroom closet and CloudTV™?

I’ll tell you in a moment, but first let’s talk about how far ActiveVideo has come since the analysts at UBS penned a report headlined “Getting More for Less with CloudTV.” In the 15 months since we began talking about virtualized set-top box functionality, cloud UIs’ currency in the market has increased with every launch of online video servicesadvanced user interfaces and interactive TV ads.

As CTO of ActiveVideo, I’ve kept my fingers on the pulse of the tech community the entire time, and here’s what I know: 1) People perk up when we talk about how the cloud drives down capex and opex, while accelerating time to market; 2) No matter how great those advantages are today, there’s always an appetite for more savings; and 3) We’ve come up with a new way to satisfy those needs.

Today we announced that we’re teaming with Intel to combine our MPEG stitching technology with Intel® Quick Sync Video and additional graphics processing on new high-density servers. We’ve enabled a 4X increase in the sessions density of CloudTV, increased by a factor of 10 the number of real-time transcoding sessions and slashed by 40% the very price per session that UBS applauded just over a year ago.

And that’s where the closet comes in.

The increase in density over existing off-the-shelf servers means that our customers can deliver online video, advanced UIs and interactive TV ads from the cloud to a million subscribers using just one data center rack of server equipment. For a customer like Cablevision to offer all of those services to every single one of its 3 million homes and 7 million STBs, the equipment required would take up just 18 square feet—roughly the size of a small bedroom closet.

What’s more, the compact data center footprint is just the beginning of how adding Intel Quick Sync Video to the CloudTV mix is changing the equation for pay-TV operators. Increased density means a sharp reduction in servers and related data center equipment—significantly reducing powering costs, as well as other operational expenses.

You can do your own math, but here’s what we’ve found: CloudTV running on servers equipped with Intel QSV reduces data center capex to $1 per sub—the cost of a bottle of water.

With Pay-TV’s move toward a future in which multiple application types are streamed from the cloud to any STB, STB virtualization too must evolve to increase scalability and efficiency. By teaming with Intel and their server partners, we’re creating robust data center environments that can support what’s already being delivered—YouTube and other online contentguides in the cloud and immersive TV advertising—as well as new services that are still over the horizon.

In the end, we’re doing better than ever what we’ve done so well since last year: We’re helping pay-TV operators get more for less with CloudTV.