Hardware Transcoding

The process in which specialized hardware is used to convert video content from one format to another is called Hardware Transcoding.

What is Hardware Transcoding?

The process in which specialized hardware is used to convert video content from one format to another is called Hardware Transcoding. Dedicated hardware like Graphics Processing Units (GPUs) or Digital Signal Processors (DSPs) are generally used to complete the transcoding process as they are more efficient than software-based transcoding applications.

Advantages of Hardware Transcoding

Hardware-based transcoding offers numerous benefits over the less complicated, software-based transcoding route map:

  • Hardware Transcoding is significantly faster because the specialized hardware used for this purpose is specifically optimized for performing these video processing tasks, enabling it to complete the process more efficiently.
  • Hardware transcoding is more power-efficient as the hardware is designed specifically to perform specific tasks while consuming less power than general-purpose CPUs.
  • Hardware transcoding often results in high-quality video output when compared to software-based transcoding. This happens because the hardware used is more powerful and optimized to perform the tasks accurately.
  • Hardware transcoding enjoys greater scalability than software-based transcoding. This is because the hardware used for the process can be added to any system to improve its transcoding capabilities, enabling it to handle larger volumes of video content.

Applications of Hardware Transcoding

  • Video Streaming: Streaming services like Netflix and YouTube use specialized hardware to transcode video content more efficiently and improve the quality of the video delivered to end-users.
  • Video Conferencing: Platforms like Zoom and Skype use optimized hardware to transcode video more efficiently, as doing so can reduce the latency and improve the overall quality of the video call.
  • Video Surveillance: Hardware transcoding is used in video surveillance systems as the optimized hardware can save storage space and reduce storage costs during the entire process.

Shortcomings of Hardware Transcoding

  • High Cost: Hardware transcoding is typically more expensive because specialized hardware is needed. The maintenance costs are often high in these scenarios. Thus, the expenses may be too much for small or mid-sized businesses to handle.
  • Limited Flexibility: Hardware transcoding is heavily optimized to carry out a select few tasks efficiently. Thus, its capabilities are severely restricted. For example, a hardware transcoding solution that is optimized specifically for H.264 encoding may not yield efficient results when other video codecs are being used.
  • Potential Compatibility Issues: Hardware transcoding solutions are incompatible with all video processing software. This can create many issues when the user is trying to integrate hardware transcoding with an existing video-processing workflow.
  • Limited Control: There is limited control for the user in the case of hardware transcoding. This is because the hardware is optimized to perform the tasks automatically, and video encoding parameters cannot be defined manually.
  • Limited Upgradability: Hardware transcoding solutions often become outdated when new video codecs and processing techniques are introduced in the market. Since hardware is pre-programmed to work to perform a specific task, it cannot be upgraded like software-based solutions can. As such, businesses will need to invest in new hardware to keep pace with technological advancements.