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Intel technology to drive 8K forward

As a longstanding partner and broadcaster of the Roland Garros French Open, every year, France Télévisions benefits from using the major sporting event as a showcase for new technology in the world of video recording and broadcasting. Each year on the occasion of this momentous tennis tournament, with the eyes of the world fixed on France, the company invites its technology partners to discuss, exchange, discover, and test these technologies, as well as put them into practice. In 2018, this includes Intel, specifically in the context of 8K. Bernard Fontaine, Director of Technological Innovation at France Télévisions and Ravindra Velhal, Global Content Technology Strategist at Intel. (Publi-reportage)

France Télévisions and Roland Garros : more than 30 years of history together. The French tennis tournament, broadcast until the 90s in 4:3 analog, has been the theater of operations for :
– the transition to 16:9 (90s-2000)
– then to digital (2000-2010)
– then to HD and Full HD (2010-2015)
– to Ultra HD HDR (2015-2017)


Bernard Fontaine, Director of Technological Innovation at France Télévisions

Bernard Fontaine, Director of Technological Innovation at France Télévisions, underlines the fundamental role played by partners like Intel in this technological saga.

“My mission at France Télévisions is to work on advanced technologies which we are not certain about. We must study the changes in the industrial sector and anticipate developments. To accomplish this, it is important to have partners such as Intel by our side, who help us to understand the industrial issues concerning the inner workings of the technical equipment used and help us to work out solutions and put them into practice. Intel is a big-name expert in electronics and hardware. Our relationship is built on trust, and dialog is essential to our undertaking. After all, we are venturing down new paths! We are pioneers in these areas, taking on all of the risks that this involves.
It’s tough for a manufacturer to work alone. This close collaboration between the staff at France Télévisions and at Intel means we can have a better understanding, we can understand each other better, and in this way, we can more quickly achieve our goals.” 

Bernard Fontaine explains that the American company has helped and supported them in trying out HD and Ultra HD, as well as with such areas as virtual reality (VR), all the while providing and implementing technical equipment. Intel has always lent a hand with the various tests and demonstrations at Roland Garros.

8K, at Roland Garros 2018

Today, the time when Ultra HD and 4K will become broadcast standards is within sight. The future is set for 8K. At the 2018 edition of Roland Garros, 8K takes center stage for France Télévisions, which records and broadcasts tennis matches locally under live conditions. This presents a technical and technological challenge in which Intel plays a leading role, as we shall see.

For the representative of France Télévisions, the challenges presented by 8K today remain observation and anticipation. “In order to go ahead and make good decisions, our R&D teams must be able to experiment and understand. It is our job to anticipate and explain so that our companies can make fully informed strategic decisions. As far as 8K, we must start to assess the production difficulties alongside our partners like Intel.”

And difficulties there are. 8K (7 680 x 4 320 pixels) translates to four times 4K (3 840 x 2 160 pixels). “This means many more pixels and much more information with the sole aim of presenting higher-quality, more detailed images. In other words, much larger files which require greater processing power for editing, encoding, and decoding, as well as more bandwidth. But 8K is not just about pixels—other parameters are also important. A frame rate of up to 60 frames per second is needed for greater fluidity, as well as a broader pallet of colors in order to provide more accurate and precise tones”, explains Ravindra Velhal, Global Content Technology Strategist at Intel, who has made the journey from the United States just to be there for France Télévisions’ 8K experiment/demonstration at Roland Garros 2018.

The Intel representative summarizes their 8K with the slogan:

“More pixels, more speed, and more quality.”

To live up to these demands, France Télévisions’ 8K experiment at Roland Garros requires the full gamut: an 8K video camera, 8K display monitor, and a solution for encoding and decoding. Implementing the full gamut means involving various players and demonstrates the collaborative venture that France Télévisions has managed to orchestrate. Sharp from Japan and Spin Digital from Germany rely on the American technology from Intel.

At the heart of the system is Spin Digital, a company specializing in high-performance codecs dedicated to becoming the new standard in broadcasting. They strive to optimize HEVC/H.265 in their solutions in order to meet the challenges posed by 4K and 8K. To do so, they rely on the knowledge and expertise of Intel. The Spin Digital workstations for encoding and decoding are powered by high-performance Intel Xeon Platinum 8168 processors, with their 2 x 24 cores and 96 threads. The German company also says they will take full advantage of other Intel technology, such as AVX-512, in the implementation of HEVC/H.265.

The long-term bonds between France Télévisions and Intel are vividly illustrated in that it was Intel which originally got France Télévisions in touch with Spin Digital before the decision was subsequently made to employ the video technology company’s solutions to create this 8K experience at Roland Garros.

“It is no coincidence that Spin Digital and its solutions are on show here today. Intel is one of our longstanding partners, with whom we converse regularly. When I set about implementing this project at Roland Garros this year, I immediately called my contacts at Intel.  The American company has just presented Spin Digital’s solutions, relying on their own technology and equipment (processor, AVX-512 instruction set) at the IBC Show. Intel has helped speed up the decision to involve Spin Digital in this 8K experiment”, Bernard Fontaine explains.

Finally, there is the question as to when 8K will actually become available to everyone. The spokespersons referred to the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) White Paper at the last IBC Show, which reckons with a reasonable objective of 2030.

For its part, Intel continues to look towards the future and is already discussing 16K. The American company, once again in collaboration with Spin Digital, just presented prototypes of functional technical solutions for this resolution at the NAB Show 2018 in Las Vegas in April.


About Spin Digital Video Technologies GmbH http://spin-digital.com
Spin Digital develops high-performance video codecs for the next generation of high-quality video applications. The company is specialized in highly efficient software implementations of the HEVC/H.265 video coding standard and its extensions. Spin Digital codecs enable ultra-high-quality video applications such as 8K and 4K with commodity computing hardware. Target applications include UHD-TV, immersive video projection, video walls and virtual reality devices.
Spin Digital offers:

An 8K HEVC/H.265 decoder. This decoder is able to process 8K video in real-time using a single workstation. It fully supports HEVC/H.265 version 2 standard (also known as the Range Extensions), enabling not only low bitrate 8K video, but at the same time cinema-grade colour fidelity.
HEVC/H.265 encoder that is able to produce very high quality and, at the same time, high compression ratios, especially tailored for 8K and 4K resolutions.
Our HEVC/H.265 codecs are ready for the next generation of high quality video systems, providing support for High Dynamic Range (HDR), High Frame Rates (HFR), and Wide Colour Gamuts.

“Intel is committed to delivering immersive experiences that offer significant image quality enhancements to virtual reality (VR) and visual content experiences,” said Lynn Comp, Vice President of the Data Center Group, and General Manager of the Visual Cloud Division at Intel Corporation. “Spin Digital’s new offering demonstrates that it is now possible to decode and playback 8Kp60 up to 16Kp60 video content using a single Intel Xeon Scalable processor-based workstation, enabling completely new types of media applications for very large-screen displays and a new generation of linear and VR content.”

Note : Workstation system configuration for 8K.
CPU (for video Encode): Intel® Xeon® Gold 6146 processor, 2×12 cores, 24 threads, 2.7 GHz. Memory: 192GB (12x16GB), DDR4 2666 MHz. GPU (for rendering to display): 1x Nvidia Quadro M4000. OS: Windows 10, 64-bit. Compiler: ICC (Intel XE, v2018 update 1). Video playback software: Spin Digital HEVC SDK (Spin SDK, April 2018)
CPU (For video Decode) : Intel® Core™ i9-7980XE Processor Extreme Edition (18 cores)



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