Deliver Reliable Video Viewing Experiences & Brilliant HDR Content in AVC

Published: 04/14/2016, Last Updated: 05/17/2017

New releases! Intel® Video Pro Analyzer, & Intel® Stress Bitstreams & Encoder

2016 R4 - Significantly improve encoders & decoders

Things just got easier for media/video solution providers, visual cloud vendors, and codec developers in delivering the promise of more brilliant and vibrant video every day to consumers. On the cusp of the NAB Show 2016, Intel just released new updates to both Intel Video Pro Analyzer (Intel® VPA) and Intel Stress Bitstreams and Encoder (Intel® SBE) which bring more reliable video viewing experiences, and brighter, more vivid HDR content in AVC, and speeds encoder/decoder performance and validation.

Check out these sections on each - and don't forget - if you are a current customer download them now. If you aren't, you're missing out - try an evaluation copy for 30 days.

Intel® VPA: Enhance Codecs with SHVC for Reliable Viewing Experiences, Use 10-bit AVC to Deliver HDR Content 

Intel delivers an updated version of Intel® VPA, our advanced video analysis tool, with new capabilities that set it apart from other tools. Codec developers can deliver and analyze brilliant high-dynamic range (HDR) 4K content in AVC and improve the robustness of video streaming. The tool now supports:

  • More HEVC extensions like SHVC to ensure more reliable viewing experiences during changing network conditions,
  • Multiview HEVC for effective compression of multi-camera video capture; and
  • AVC 10-bit for HDR content delivery.

This release also significantly improves performance by 1.7x for AVC and 47x for MPEG2; and reduces memory usage by 10% for AVC and VP9 codecs.

Ensure Encoder Compliance, Speed Validation, Improve Quality

Here's a quick high-level list of some of our favorite new things in Intel VPA - more in-depth details of these follow. But keep in mind there's even more candy in the jar - see the Release Notes and full features list for even more.

  • HEVC extension support / AVC extended format support
  • Improved spec conformance reporting, New statistics/visualization
  • Performance improvements and much more

HEVC Extension Support

  • SHVC - Scalable HEVC: VPA supports SHVC to help ensure reliable video viewing experiences by allowing users to adjust resolutions and frame rates according to changing network conditions. This standardizes encoding of high quality streams carrying one or more subset streams. These can be lower spatial resolution (smaller screen), temporal resolution (lower frame rate), or lower quality. One can find SHVC layers and specific syntax elements in VPA's UI now. See Figures 1 and 2 for details. 
Figure 1: Get an inside look to Intel VPA's buffer view of an SHVC sequence with 2 substreams at different spatial/temporal resolution. The smaller bars are for 128x72 frames; the taller bars correspond to 256x128 frames. 


Intel VPA 2016R4 SHVC
Figure 2: Another SHVC input file with multiple component streams delivered together in the same sequence.


  • MV-HEVC - MultiView: VPA supports multi-view HEVC encoding often known as stereoscopic coding for effective compression of video capture through multiple cameras at the same time.This helps with efficient encoding of video captured simultaneously from multiple camera angles in a single video stream. VPA shows specific MV-HEVC syntax elements in UI.

AVC Extended Format Support

  • AVC 4:2:2 10-bit: AVC/H.264 extended bit depth and color formats are supported in VPA's new release. Previously, VPA supported only AVC 4:2:0 8-bit. Codec developers and validation engineers that use AVC can utilize bitstream formats with higher bit depth and more chroma bits per pixel. These provide more and deeper colors for better viewer experience. Now with 10-bit support we are closer to feature complete. See Figure 3  below.
Intel VPA 2016R4 AVC 10-bit
Figure 3: Analysis of a 4:2:2 10-bit encoded stream.


Performance Improvements

Debug Faster with Improved Performance and Reduced Memory Usage

  • Get significant performance improvements of 1.7x faster for AVC, and 47x faster for MPEG-2 as compared to the previous version of VPA.
  • Reduce memory usage by 10% for AVC and VP9, which enables quicker parsing of the content to debug faster.

Optimize Smarter, Quicker, and More Efficiently with New Statistics, Tools and Capabilities 

  • New Statistics - SAO, Deblocking and Per-Syntax Elements Statistics and views of the encoding process improves decision-making and allows faster performance and quality optimizations and validation of encoders.
  • Better Stream processing performance by gathering data from frame headers for adjacent frames while you're analyzing the current frame, so you can start quickly and data is there when you need it. This makes VPA faster and a convenient tool for analyzing streams.

Spec Conformance Reporting

Automated validation checks for stream conformance to standard for HEVC and AVC were improved. Ensuring conformance for your output is important -- this means your content is playable on the widest range of decoders today and tomorrow. Errors are conveniently written to the error log for further analysis.

New Statistics/Visualization of Encoding Process

It’s now easier to find out how many syntax elements and bits per frame are used and check  syntax element order. You can see more about the structure of encoded stream and interdependencies between the frames. Developers can verify that syntax elements that were encoded in particular order are decoded in the same order. New statistics delivers data to users in easy to use views, so they can make better quality and performance optimizations decisions and inspect, find issues and debug faster.

Container Support

Since most video is delivered and played back in containers, this was a prioritized feature allowing users the ability to work directly with more container formats rather than by extracting video elementary streams, saving time and disk space. With direct use of containers one can skip the extra step of demuxing the content, which makes the process more efficient. Debug faster and with less overhead leading to quicker decision-making for further optimization targets.

  •  MPEG-2 in MKV, MPEG2-TS, MMT,and AVI
  •  H.264/AVC in AVI and MPEG4-DASH (for broadcast scenarios)
  •  H.265/HEVC in MMT and MPEG4-DASH

Download Video Pro Analyzer Now

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New Users: Get 30 days Evaluation Version


What's New in Intel® Stress Bitstreams and Encoder 2016 R4

by Jeff McAllister, technical consulting engineer for Intel® Media Server Studio product family

Video is an ever-present part of our lives - and to get high-quality video content out the door, not only are the best encoders and decoders needed, but ensuring they are compliant, can handle multiple stream scenarios, and pass validation tests quickly is where the rubber - and big costs - can hit the road.

With Intel® Stress Bitstreams and Encoder (Intel® SBE), codec developers and architects can perform extensive, production-scale media validation and debug to ensure that decoders are market-ready, and significantly reduce testing cycles through a range of test inputs and tools.   

New Release: Improve Decoder Compliance, Decrease Validation Time

The most recent release of Intel® SBE delivers scalable HEVC (SHVC) and HEVC 4:0:0 (Monochrome) to improve compliance/performance tests, HEVC smoke test streams, and AVS 2.0 visual streams.

As image resolutions extend to UHD/4K and beyond, the benefits of increased quality (or decreased bandwidth to maintain a quality threshold) often come with the cost of increased algorithm and spec complexity. As a decode solution provider, this increases validation difficulty. A more complex spec means increasing test suite coverage to ensure decoder compatibility.

Intel® SBE's continuing development helps codec developers and architects ensure that decode products are ready for a wide range of codecs and spec extensions.

Top New Features

  • Extended HEVC Stress and Syntax Streams - SHVC & Monochrome: A new set of stress (performance) and syntax (compliance) streams is added to validate HEVC decoders supporting SHVC Main (with multiple layers) and 4:4:0 (Monochrome) profiles. SHVC allows developers to deliver reliable viewing experiences by allowing adjustments to resolutions and frame rates according to changing network conditions. HEVC 4:0:0 streams cover scenarios when encoded color information is reduced to allow more efficient encoding for monochrome streams. See Figures 1 and 2 below.
Figure 1 shows frame sizes for one of the SHVC streams in Intel SBE. The larger frames have 256x128 resolution, the smaller ones are 128x72.


Figure 2: This image shows a monochrome HEVC stream (the view is shown through Intel® Video Pro Analyzer).


  • AVS 2.0 Visual Streams: Intel strengthens its portfolio of validation streams for AVS 2.0 (a common media format used in China). New Visual streams combine functional testing (coverage of syntax elements and decoder’s code blocks) with output designed for visual analysis.(See detail on AVS 2.0 Stress and Syntax streams in this blog: Intel Delivers AVS 2.0 Bitstreams for Efficient Decoder Validation - English - Chinese.)
  • Significant Improvements to VP9 Streams and Tools: Smoke test coverage improved with 2x reduction of memory footprint, 100% context coverage, and new error resilience streams for Profiles 0 and 2. In the VP9 Random Encoder, a new mode allows you to control coefficient distribution by tokens, providing better coverage for custom streams.

More Information 

A Solid Foundation with Intel® Architecture, Media Accelerators & Software

Intel has a longterm commitment to delivering computing technologies that change the world - from cloud, data center, mobile to event the tiniest embedded sensors. And Intel is here to help with the media and broadcasting industry take the fullest advantage of Intel architecture, providing pathways to innovation such as to next gen formats like HEVC, VP9, and other emerging standards for increased coding efficiency. Transitioning down this path is crucial for video solution providers to stay competitive and overcome bandwidth constraints as image resolutions extend to UHD/4K and beyond.

For More Information

The above notes are just the top level features and enhancements. Access Intel VPA and SBE product sites and latest Release Notes for more details. For questions, please connect with us:

 Intel Media forum or Online Service Center.




Product and Performance Information


Intel's compilers may or may not optimize to the same degree for non-Intel microprocessors for optimizations that are not unique to Intel microprocessors. These optimizations include SSE2, SSE3, and SSSE3 instruction sets and other optimizations. Intel does not guarantee the availability, functionality, or effectiveness of any optimization on microprocessors not manufactured by Intel. Microprocessor-dependent optimizations in this product are intended for use with Intel microprocessors. Certain optimizations not specific to Intel microarchitecture are reserved for Intel microprocessors. Please refer to the applicable product User and Reference Guides for more information regarding the specific instruction sets covered by this notice.

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