Why hardware acceleration will save you

Why hardware acceleration will save you
As the number of cameras added to surveillance systems continues to rise, the resulting increase in video streams is putting the VMS system under increasing “processing pressure” which can only be as fast as its computing power (CPU) allows. When the processing tipping point is reached, one solution is to add more hardware to increase computing power. But is this the only option?

Milestone Systems is the first VMS vendor to introduce hardware accelerated video decoding using Intel’s built-in Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) component in the CPU and the Intel Media SDK. This unleashes more processing power than you could possibly imagine, using less hardware. Christian Ringler, Director for Middle East, Africa & DACH at Milestone Systems explained, “By adopting this technology, the IT department can cut hardware costs by 50 percent or more, simplify the installation, as well as produce less heat and consume less power, adding to their green credentials.”

Hardware acceleration = reduced costs and greater processing power

The ability to process video has traditionally been dependent on the CPU of the surveillance system. In this scenario, to increase a system’s ability to process video, it has been necessary to add bigger servers which not only cost more, but also add to the complexity of the system. This leads to higher administration costs and power consumption.

By harnessing the video processing capabilities in the GPU, the processor-intensive task of decoding (rendering) video is offloaded to the dedicated graphics system, leaving the processor free to perform other tasks. Computers with compatible Intel processors, firmware, drivers and a Microsoft operating system can run the latest version of XProtect Smart Client and benefit from more than 80 percent reduction in processor load.

“Intel has very cleverly taken the graphics adaptor that you would associate with ‘gaming technology’ and shrunk it down to a size which means it can be incorporated into the processor. This means that the computing power, or graphics processing power, is dramatically increased while the physical space it takes up is significantly decreased like the way that a camera can be installed on a smartphone. We are taking the designing principles of cell phones and applying them to our surveillance systems,” Ringler commented.

“It’s important to understand the computing power we are talking about here: Intel and Milestone’s solution is purposely separate from the datacenter server, as this is not designed to handle the huge data streams and specialized number crunching involved in video processing.”

The key challenges that hardware acceleration overcomes

Hardware acceleration resolves two fundamental surveillance issues. The first is the sheer volume of video that is being captured by an increasing number of cameras on systems in all sorts of environments and industry sectors. This ranges from capturing human behavior in retail stores, to sophisticated security systems monitoring in real time, to monitoring endangered species in zoos. There is no doubt that the value of the video analysis is creating a greater demand for larger surveillance systems. Hardware acceleration overcomes the bottleneck this creates at the CPU.

The second challenge is software decoding of video. Each compressed video stream that the operator views on his monitor is being decoded by the CPU. As if this wasn’t putting enough strain on the processing power of the system, the demand for clearer, higher definition images that result in admissible evidence when needed, means the adoption of large-scale HD and UHD systems is growing and adding to the incredible loads put on processing power. Ringler explained, “To avoid poor video quality, end users believe that they must purchase extra processing power at huge expense, both to buy the asset and maintain the subsequent running costs this involves (e.g., high power consumption). However, by using Intel Quick Sync Video, Milestone is able to dramatically reduce processor utilization and display more video streams while eliminating those jerky video streams and grainy images that are all too common when the CPU cannot cope.”

Join the hardware acceleration revolution

Hardware acceleration is set to transform the surveillance industry, as by taking this approach we ultimately use less resources while increasing video capabilities.

Ringler concluded, “Our partners are winning tenders thanks to this technology, as we are typically able to reduce the number of recording servers by a factor of three or more. Taking the hardware acceleration approach offers the same, if not better performance, than adding more hardware to a system.”

For more information, visit the Milestone Community Days (MIPS EMEA) event in Dubai, 8-10 May, 2017.
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