White Paper THE VALUE OF SOFTWARE-BASED VIDEO CODECS September 2012 S. Ann Earon, Ph.D. President, Telemanagement Resources International Inc. ©2012 ClearOne Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this document may be reproduced in any form or by any means without written permission from ClearOne Inc. Printed in the United States of America. ClearOne reserves specific privileges. Information in this document is subject to change without notice. White Paper The Value of Software-Based Video Codec ClearOne Rev 1.0 - September 2012 Optimal Audio For Conference Rooms Table of Contents Introduction 1 Meeting Customer Needs 1 The Software-Based Solution 1 The Value of Software-Based Codecs versus Hardware-Based Codecs 2 Technology Perceptions 3 White Paper The Value of Software-Based Video Codec ClearOne Rev 1.0 - September 2012 Introduction With the advent of new video conferencing and collaborative technology products, a discussion has begun to revolve around the value of a software-based architecture versus a hardware based system. For years, many video conferencing vendors convinced customers that the hardware-based system was the right tool for conferencing and that software-based systems had too many limitations. However, with the: - proliferation of bandwidth, - the flexibility of the Internet protocol, - increased processing capability of general-purpose processors & standard operating systems, - the introduction of tablets, - the capability for general-purpose processors to handle video related tasks, and - an awareness of contemporary conferencing requirements, vendors have now changed their tune and introduced an open and flexible collaboration platform based on software- based codecs instead of dedicated hardware- based codecs for video conferencing. The purpose of this paper is to understand the value of software-based codecs as part of today’s collaborative tools. substantially more than a few select conference rooms. Users state that the value in meetings has as much, or more, to do with the information handled in the meetings as it has to do with seeing people. That information might be in the form of PowerPoint presentations, paper handouts, information from a tablet, video clips and photos, or notes on a whiteboard. While vendors have offered peripheral equipment to meet these applications, users feel these needs are not peripheral to their business, but an integral part of their business. As a result, new video conferencing systems have been developed embracing the sharing of meeting content as an equal partner with the transmission of audio and video. But why develop these new systems on software-based codecs? The Software-Based Solution Software-based solutions can be resident on many types of general-purpose devices including PCs, appliances, servers and hand-held devices etc. Software-based H.264 video codecs can be used for conference room, desktop and mobile applications. Historically, general-purpose devices have been quite lame with respect to handling motion video. It is only in the last few years that graphics and CPU processing power has approached the level of sophistication and power to do justice to quality TV images, an evolution that has recently been driven by the emergence of DVD playback on the PC, Meeting Customer Needs The strongest message received from long-term video conferencing users is that the video conferencing ‘talkingheads’ experience is not a sufficiently compelling reason to justify installation of video conferencing equipment in video gaming devices, handheld communication devices, and a variety of social media offerings. The PC is not new to video conferencing. In 1989, VTEL offered the first PC-based video conferencing system. In 1993, PictureTel introduced the System 1000, based on personal computer architecture. In 1997, VCON White Paper - The Value of Software-Based Video Codec - 1-800-945-7730 - www.clearone.com - email@example.com 1 invented the first IP-only desktop videoconferencing Incompatibility between codecs is not going to fade away system for videoconferencing over large organizational as technology evolves. networks. However, historically video vendors have more prolific and complex to the point where it comes been very reserved about exposing the PC inside to the economically impossible to build chip sets that keep up video conferencing user, in part out of concern to protect with software development. Instead, codecs will become customers from some of the pitfalls of having a personal computer in a group environment, and in part because When a system is designed with all these aspects in until recently the PC leant itself poorly to the seamless mind, use of these valuable meeting tools in video calls integration of motion video and PC-generated content. is a seamless and natural extension of their everyday use in a regular meeting room. Apart from the sheer value In parallel with the general-purpose devices maturing as of getting more use out of the equipment, this has the a standards-based motion-video platform, the Web has added benefit of acclimatizing users to the equipment in grown to become an indispensable source of information conditions other than during a video call, since for some for business. novice or occasional users a video call may be a ‘special By merging general-purpose processing functionality with video conferencing functionality, and event’ viewed with some trepidation. opening the general-purpose device to the conferenceroom use, the resources on a company’s local area network are as accessible in the conference room as when sitting at one’s desk. The result is a much better integrated solution than simply attaching a PC as an afterthought to a The Value of Software-Based Codecs versus Hardware-Based Codecs ‘talking heads’ video conferencing system. Recent advances in computation power and storage have Web access, access to networked files and databases, enabled a variety of general-purpose devices to perform and the use of attached devices, such as whiteboards video compression and decompression efficiently in connected with a local or networked printer, provide end software only formats. users with value from the collaboration system, even for single-room, non-video meetings. Hardware-based are different codecs between It’s economics that led to the development of Telestream’s vendors and even between original multi-thousand dollar FlipFactory box. Today, chipsets from the same they offer video transcoding workflow solutions as vendor. This means you software downloads. And, that is precisely what they are, don’t get the “plug-and-play” portability as you do with transcoding solutions, which do not perform as well as software-based codecs. using the matching codec employed at the origination site. White Paper - The Value of Software-Based Video Codec - 1-800-945-7730 - www.clearone.com - firstname.lastname@example.org 2 Hardware-based codecs don’t allow you to easily fix Future video/collaboration apps will reside in the “cloud” interoperability issues and are not as easily programmable requiring that a user simply connect to it. Software codecs as software-based codecs. Software-based codecs and are not only for collaborative efforts, but are used for a related apps are available everywhere as downloads. variety of applications when data needs to be compressed and sent to another site. It isn’t economically feasible to Software-based media-processing solutions do everything build codecs for every application. Using software makes from decoding video to managing a touch-screen interface changes much easier and faster. to running Bluetooth, all on a single general-purpose processor. Software encoding offers extremely high Due to improved coding quality when compared to hardware encoding, since efficiency and functionality, hardware is usually focused on delivery speed over quality. a number of applications As processors continue to evolve, future enhancements using and applications will be mostly software-based. video conferencing, video digital video – streaming, Internet video The advent of software-based codecs, compared to games, and digital TV – hardware-based codecs, offers value in many ways. are emerging on general- Software-based solutions: purpose devices, as well as hand-held devices. For each application, efficient software codecs are highly desirable. - offer higher scalability and capacity at lower cost than hardware based solutions - enable faster time to market for new, latest or custom features - allow easy customization for different needs of vertical markets - offer easy upgradability and seamless feature additions after the initial investment - offer more flexibility to expand with business growth - are more highly secured for IT infrastructure requirements Technology Perceptions While video conferencing in room environments will always have their place for important group meetings, it is important to realize that many people in the work place do not always have the time to walk down a hall to a conference facility. Using a software-based architecture allows the two dimensions of traditional video conferencing systems - allow the use of existing equipment and – audio and video – to be added by a third dimension – infrastructure with easier installation data, as an integral component to make a well-rounded and maintenance whole. When you compare three dimensional, integrated - achieve higher Return On Investment with products to what was known in the past, the old way of multiplecapabilities and applications in a communicating seems flat by comparison. People now single-box solution want the ability to hold video calls and collaborate wherever -facilitate easier migration to user-friendly devices(e.g. tablets, phones, MAC, PC, etc.). they are located, including at the desktop or while away from the office. White Paper - The Value of Software-Based Video Codec - 1-800-945-7730 - www.clearone.com - email@example.com 3 Because there is no common denominator, the demand for more powerful codecs can only be economically justified with software-based solutions. As the next generation of computing evolves, software codec developers will be able to apply more sophisticated algorithms. As video applications become complex in fields requiring very high resolutions images with 3-D motion for medicine, scientific research, engineering, etc. so too will the codecs that are needed to disseminate, receive and share information. Software-based codecs, for a variety of reasons as noted S. Ann Earon, Ph.D., is president of Telemanagement above, are here to stay and offer developers and users the Resources International Inc. and Founding Chairperson flexibility needed to upgrade information and technology of IMCCA, the non-profit industry association for as it is needed, thereby eliminating expensive hardware. collaborative conferencing. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. White Paper - The Value of Software-Based Video Codec - 1-800-945-7730 - www.clearone.com - email@example.com 4 Clearone Contacts North America Tel: 801-975-7200 Toll Free: 800-945-7730 Sales: 800-707-6994 Fax: 801-977-0087 firstname.lastname@example.org Europe & Oceania Tel: +44 1454 616 977 email@example.com Asia Pacific Tel: +852 3590 4526 firstname.lastname@example.org Latin America Tel: 801-974-3621 email@example.com Middle East Tel: +852 3590 4526 firstname.lastname@example.org Other product names may be registered trademarks of their respective owners who do not necessarily endorse ClearOne or ClearOne’s products. All rights reserved. Information in this document subject to change without notice. © 2012 ClearOne. DOC-0114-001, Revision 1.0 September 2012.
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