Vidyo developed and implemented a new standard called scalable video coding (SVC). This standard not only changes the fundamentals of the videoconferencing industry but challenges its existence. Now scalable video coding enables video streaming at multiple resolutions, quality levels and bit rates.
Just to give you a few examples
Resolutions: QCIF, CIF, 4CIF, SD, HD, Full HD etc
Frame Rates: 5fps, 10 fps, 15fps, 30fps, 60fps etc
Network Speeds: 128Kbps, 256 Kbps, 384Kbps, 512Kbps, 1Mbps, 2Mbps etc
Please note that there are several of intermediate resolutions, frame rates and network speeds supported but the idea is to understand that SVC standard allows us to have layers of encoded video. Now this opens up a whole lot of possibilities as can be seen from the details mentioned below.
Just to begin with SVC is better placed to handle packet losses due to network conditions as the video streams are now differentiated into layers of different reliability. This ensures that the video that finally gets displayed is free of artefacts that are so common in traditional videoconferencing calls running over IP networks.
The second aspect is that the current crop of videoconferencing companies are all working on the concept that intelligence needs to be built in at the network core. The fundamental problem with this approach is the network core (MCU or Multi Conference Unit) is now responsible for lots of things like transcoding (matching frame rates, network speeds, resolutions) depending on calls standards. This is extremely processor resource demanding task as the MCU now has to decode individual streams, then compose these multiple streams and follow that number crunching task by re-encoding the packets before sending the stream to each site. Several things are wrong with this approach, like the time it takes to do this task introduces significant latency, errors that creep in as a stream reaches the MCU is bundled into the newly composed stream and even this is prone to further packet losses, Real time call conditions (like processing power, network conditions) are not being monitored so packets are just being pushed irrespective of whether the endpoint or network is capable of coping with it or not.
To summarize the traditional approach of doing encoding and decoding in the core introduces delay. It also means that users all get the same data stream, rather than one suited to their bandwidth, window size and client. In short, transcoding in the cloud makes for lousy conversations.
Vidyo resolved this aspect by putting intelligence at the edge (remember encoding - layered media approach - at the edge using SVC format) and then having an extremely specialized Vidyo Router at the core that constantly talks to the endpoints on the edge. This makes the Vidyo Router completely aware of the endpoint capabilities in real time. Now all the video router has to do is route only the relevant media layers to the endpoint. So with Vidyo data transmission to each client’s is based on the demand. When a client shrinks the size of their video window, the router knows — and as a result, sends fewer bits, less frames, or lower-quality video to that client without affecting everyone else. The router isn’t busy encoding, merging and decoding streams, but it knows about processing, window size and bandwidth, which it can adjust dynamically throughout the call. So the ability to do transcoding and provide for a far superior error resiliency is built in within the SVC standard and Vidyo Router combination, thereby eliminating latency and guaranteeing a smoother video experience. It also means that scalability, redundancy etc is now truly available; imagine 100 HD multipoint ports on a single router.
The best way to believe this is to see a video call on a completely unmanaged network with no QoS like the public internet.
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