New – Amazon EC2 VT1 Instances for Live Multi-stream Video Transcoding

Global demand for video content has been rapidly increasing and now has the major audiences of Internet and mobile network traffic. Over-the-top streaming services such as Twitch continue to see an explosion of content creators who are seeking live delivery with great image quality, while live event broadcasters are increasingly looking to embrace agile cloud infrastructure to reduce costs without sacrificing reliability, and efficiently scale with demand.

Today, I am happy to announce the general availability of Amazon EC2 VT1 instances that are designed to provide the best price performance for multi-stream video transcoding with resolutions up to 4K UHD. These VT1 instances feature Xilinx® Alveo™ U30 media accelerator transcoding cards with accelerated H.264/AVC and H.265/HEVC codecs and provide up to 30% better price per stream compared to the latest GPU-based EC2 instances and up to 60% better price per stream compared to the latest CPU-based EC2 instances.

Customers with their own live broadcast and streaming video pipelines can use VT1 instances to transcode video streams with resolutions up to 4K UHD. VT1 instances feature networking interfaces of up to 25 Gbps that can ingest multiple video streams over IP with low latency and low jitter. This capability makes it possible for these customers to fully embrace scalable, cost-effective, and resilient infrastructure.

Amazon EC2 VT1 Instance Type
EC2 VT1 instances are available in three sizes. The accelerated H.264/AVC and H.265/HEVC codecs are integrated into Xilinx Zynq ZU7EV SoCs. Each Xilinx® Alveo™ U30 media transcoding accelerator card contains two Zynq SoCs.

Instance size vCPUs Xilinx U30 card Memory Network bandwidth EBS-optimized bandwidth 1080p60 Streams per instance
vt1.3xlarge 12 1 24GB Up to 3.12 Gbps Up to 4.75 Gbps 8
vt1.6xlarge 24 2 48GB 6.25 Gbps 4.75 Gbps 16
vt1.24xlarge 96 8 192GB 25 Gbps 19 Gbps 64

The VT1 instances are suitable for transcoding multiple streams per instance. The streams can be processed independently in parallel or mixed (picture-in-picture, side-by-side, transitions). The vCPU cores help with implementing image processing, audio processing, and multiplexing. The Xilinx® Alveo™ U30 card can simultaneously output multiple streams at different resolutions (1080p, 720p, 480p, and 360p) and in both H.264 and H.265.

Each VT1 instance can be configured to produce parallel encoding with different settings, resolutions and transmission bit rate (“ABR ladders“). For example, a 4K UHD stream can be encoded at 60 frames per second with H.265 for high resolution display. Multiple lower resolutions can be encoded with H.264 for delivery to standard displays.

Get Started with EC2 VT1 Instances
You can now launch VT1 instances in the Amazon EC2 console, AWS Command Line Interface (AWS CLI), or using an SDK with the Amazon EC2 API.

We provide a number of sample video processing pipelines for the VT1 instances. There are tutorials and code examples in the GitHub repository that cover how to tune the codecs for image quality and transcoding latency, call the runtime for the U30 cards directly from your own applications, incorporate video filters such as titling and watermarking, and deploy with container orchestration frameworks.

Xilinx provides the “Xilinx Video Transcoding SDK” which includes:

VT1 instances can be coupled with Amazon Elastic Container Service (Amazon ECS) and Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service (Amazon EKS) to efficiently scale transcoding workloads and with Amazon CloudFront to deliver content globally. VT1 instances can also be launched with Amazon Machine Images (AMIs) and containers developed by AWS Marketplace partners, such as Nginx for supplemental video processing functionality.

You can complement VT1 instances with AWS Media Services for reliable packaging and origination of transcoded content. To learn more, you can use a solution library of Live Streaming on AWS to build a live video workflow using these AWS services.

Available Now
Amazon EC2 VT1 instances are now available in the US East (N. Virginia), US West (Oregon), Europe (Ireland), Asia Pacific (Tokyo) Regions. To learn more, visit the EC2 VT1 instance page. Please send feedback to the AWS forum for Amazon EC2 or through your usual AWS support contacts.

– Channy

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