The Capacity Gap
Much has been said about the explosive growth in the demand for streaming video, and how it impacts the infrastructure that supplies it. Some estimate that in a few years streaming demand will outpace the ability to supply it by a factor of five. With CPU performance increasing at a modest 3.5% per year, there is a huge gap that cannot be alleviated simply by adding more servers. It’s basic math—the number of servers needed to be added to meet compute demands is far outweighed by the collective cost (power, cooling, space, etc.) of adding those servers. The idea of throwing more hardware at the problem is a brute-force approach that simply won’t be able to meet the growing demands for live streaming scale and quality.
The Stream Processing Unit (SPU)
HellaStorm has taken a unique and innovative approach to this brute force problem. Through software acceleration technology, HellaStorm employs programmable hardware to increase the speed of data-bound applications on standard cloud infrastructure. By attacking the bottlenecks that are in the critical path of data ingest and delivery workflows, the HellaStorm Stream Processing Unit (SPU) dramatically reduces the footprint, power, and cooling requirements to satisfy a variety of business cases such as live streaming. The SPU has a Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) at its core which allows for hardware-level performance and power savings while preserving the reconfigurability and flexibility of software. When HellaStorm’s IP is added to the FPGA, it becomes an SPU capable of accelerating the network and data transfer operations most prevalent in today’s content delivery environments. The SPU is similar to a GPU but instead of accelerating logic and graphics functions, the SPU accelerates cloud operations.
Accelerating Content Delivery
HellaStorm’s primary market focus is using the capabilities of the SPU to reduce the capacity gap in content delivery. The SPU provides many services that implement this acceleration, including offloading network services from the CPU, implementing high availability data services to manage the movement of data between storage and the network, and services that manage the deployment of Docker-compliant software containers. It also includes a fully hardware-accelerated object store that is optimized for random read performance, as is common in video streaming and mobile edge computing (MEC) applications. A hardware-accelerated object store delivers high performance and extremely consistent, low latency operations without being impacted by CPU I/O congestion or HTTP parsing and conversion.
Typical video streaming components, such as edge caches and streaming servers, have storage access patterns that are heavily weighted towards random read requests. Write operations must be replicated for reliability and without incurring write amplification penalties. HellaStorm’s hardware accelerated object store avoids these penalties.
Direct2Edge Live Video Streaming
HellaStorm has partnered with fellow Streaming Video Alliance member Streaming Global to implement Direct2Edge streaming, a new approach that greatly simplifies the live video streaming pipeline. Streaming Global invented a method to deliver media over IP using only standard HTTP cloud storage servers. HellaStorm’s acceleration technology increases scale and reduces the cost of cloud storage and related services at the network edge. Combining our two technologies results in the lowest cost, highest performance, highest reliability streaming solution at World Cup scale, while using far fewer servers than traditional methods. The result? 30x-60x faster delivery!
|Conventional Streaming Pipeline||Direct2Edge Live Streaming Pipeline|
Hellastorm and the Streaming Video Alliance
HellaStorm is proud to be an active member of the Streaming Video Alliance, and very grateful for the membership grant. As active members of the Live Streaming, Networking and Transport, and Open Caching Working Groups, we have seen firsthand the positive role the Alliance and its members play in shaping the course of the industry.
About this Post
Each year, the Streaming Video Alliance opens its doors to innovative startups and small companies as part of its Membership Grant Program. For 2019, the Alliance welcomed a number of very interesting companies exploring and productizing technologies for the streaming video space. Hellastorm is one of those. This blog is part of a series showcasing each of our Grant Program recipients, the technical problems they hope to solve, and the value they bring to the streaming video ecosystem.