This beast will cost you a mere USD $7,000 (approx) … but boy does it perform!
On Friday, Beamr Imaging claims to have achieved the world’s first real-time 8K HEVC encoding by using a single EPYC 7742, AMD’s flagship server CPU based on its new Rome architecture.
A single 64-core EPYC 7742, which features the 7nm process and the Zen 2 microarchitecture (the same type of cores found in Ryzen 3000), encoded 8K footage in real time at 79 frames per second with 10-bit color required for HDR.
It’s a significant achievement for both hardware and software; the Epyc 7742 is the world’s first 64-core x86 CPU to come in a standard general-purpose socket, and the Beamr encoding software is designed to use all 64 of those cores. Parallelization is a significant concern for CPUs with increasingly larger core counts, from consumer to server applications, so it’s nice to see the 7742 used to the fullest.
The demand for encoding 8K footage in real time at a good quality level has increased as 8K displays have begun filtering out to market. They’re not very common today, but they will likely become more common over time just as 4K monitors, and especially TVs, have. Soon we may see live television in 8K, which is the angle AMD and Beamr are taking with the 7742’s encoding and streaming capabilities, specifically in regards to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
AMD says EPYC could be used for more than just television, though. The chips are also suitable for “premium video on demand” (presumably for services like Netflix and Hulu) as well as “cloud gaming content streaming,” which has emerged as a way to play games with services like GeForce Now and Google Stadia. That said, AMD also states that the previous-gen Naples-based EPYC processors are enough for these applications, too, but at sub-8K resolutions.
There are still other challenges that need to be solved before 8K becomes mainstream, like sufficient internet bandwidth and a wider selection of 8K displays. But AMD’s EPYC Rome seems to solve the issue of delivering an acceptable amount of horsepower within a much denser footprint, which should provide a decent incentive for ISPs and display manufacturers to offer faster internet connections (hopefully) and more 8K display options, respectively.