The “16x Growth” Business of Ultra High-Definition Surveillance
In today’s surveillance market we exceedingly judge ourselves by the number of megapixels of a camera. However, when trying to display all of those pixels the reality gets lost. This didn’t stop Avigilon from recently announcing plans for their 29MP camera, and it became apparent that our market is going to continue to run toward megapixel technology regardless of the practical usage. This has some practical business issues. Without hardware technology partners that make Ultra HD displays, workstations, video adapter cards and software, there is no real way to take advantage of these high-end cameras. The industry certainly has figured out the benefits for standard 1080p HD cameras; however, it is still struggling to manage large-scale environments. What is exciting is that including the ecosystem partners’ with 16x multiplier of pixels equates to a 16x multiplier of the system cost.
Ultra High-Definition Defined
The Ultra High Definition TV standard (sometimes referred to as UHDTV, Ultra HDTV, Super Hi-Vision, 8K or 4320p) is 7680 (H) x 4320 (V) or 33.1 MP and is roughly the same as IMAX. It is going to land someplace above 30 FPS with some in the TV industry thinking as high as 60 FPS. Where the surveillance industry has typically followed the display industry with resolution, the industry is notorious for not following the other aspects of the specifications such as FPS, color and contrast, to name a few. However, resolution is how we measure ourselves, so we are getting close. Time will tell what technology will be used to make the UHDTV market commercially viable.
WQXGA Workstations Designed
Today’s best surveillance displays used in high-end workstations can run at WQXGA, which is 2560 (H) x 1600 (V) and has 4 MP of display power. These 30” displays typically will cost more than $1,500 each and require a special video adapter that cost an additional $500 to take advantage of the full display resolution. To drive more than one display you need to know how to build high-end workstations, as all aspects of the workstation have to be engineered including the motherboard, PCI slots, power, cooling and cable management. A single workstation plus four WQXGA displays can easily run more than $20,000 and have the capability of displaying 16 million pixels of raw video. However, this still displays only half of the 33.1 MP of Ultra High Definition. To achieve that 33.1 MP, the cost would then be at $40,000, and this is 16 times beyond the typical $2,500 cost today. This is a massive growth multiple that is already starting to impact the surveillance market today. Already, A&E specifications are calling for UHDTV video walls using super high-end LCD/LED displays or projection systems.
GPU Software Integration Detailed
In order to make UHDTV a reality the entire video management software industry will need to rewrite their software to include the use of specialized processors, called Graphics Processing Units or GPU’s. These processors, when combined with CPU’s, can take the computationally intensive part of an application and accelerate it by offloading the work to a GPU, which would reside on a specialized video card adapter. For example, video management client software would have to be rewritten to allow the workstation’s CPU to handle the sequential part of the application and send all of the high-end graphics work to the GPU. Milestone was one of the first to develop a partnership with a GPU manufacturer by the name of Matrox and supported up to 16 channels of 1080p HD. Axxonsoft developed an integration with Nvidia also supporting a similar number of channels. These types of integrations will continue to evolve as the market looks to support Ultra High-Definition surveillance cameras. This will drive massive growth measured in pixels, bits, bytes and more importantly, dollars for the industry. All of this ecosystem growth will need to happen before we get to “Ultra High-Definition Evidence.”