8K Ultra High Definition Digital Media Streaming Demonstrated at the GLIF Global LambdaGrid Workshop

October 16, 2012

On October 11th, 2012, at the 12th Annual Global LambdaGrid Workshop in Chicago, sponsored by the Global Lambda Integrated Facility (GLIF), an international ultra-high-definition, high-performance, digital streaming application was showcased by researchers at the SITOLA laboratory at Masaryk University in the Czech Republic. To elevate digital media resolution to match the capabilities of human vision, which traditional media does not, 8K digital media (ultra-high-definition video with 16 times the resolution of common Full-HD video) was demonstrated. The size of these data streams is much higher than those that can be supported by today's networks. To address this challenge, SITOLA researchers are developing new capabilities for video compression and processing using graphical processors and advanced protocols for video distribution in the computer networks. An implementation of this research, shown at GLIF, is the open-source UltraGrid framework.

More specifically, at the GLIF workshop, SITOLA streamed an 8K movie from the International Center for Advanced Internet Research at Northwestern University in Chicago to the SITOLA laboratory in Brno, Czech Republic, and to the site of the demonstration -- the Electronic Visualization Laboratory (EVL) at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Participants on both receiving locations could control the streaming interactively. UltraGrid used JPEG compression at 2Gb/s, on-the-fly recompressed to DXT5-YCoCg compression at 6.5Gb/s and displayed the images on a high-resolution tiled-display walls using EVL's SAGE middleware, which is interoperable with UltraGrid.

Currently, such capabilities can be used for specialty venues, such as conferences, and for advanced research applications, such as medical training, but in the future services such as this will be available to consumers. Because of the resolution limitation of human vision, 8K or ultra-high-definition video is perceived as the ultimate technology for broadcasting and cinematography applications. It is 16 times the resolution of standard Full-high-definition, and enables the viewer to be better immersed in the scene. This standard was demonstrated during the Summer Olympic Games 2012 in London by NHK and BBC, where custom hardware and networks were used to transmit the content from the stadiums. The format has been standardized and is expected to be deployed in production around the year 2020.

This demonstration was supported by CESNET, the Czech national research and education network, the International Center for Advanced Internet Research at Northwestern University, the Electronic Visualization Lab at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and the StarLight International/National Communications Exchange Facility. The 8K movie was originally produced by the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign for Adler Planetarium's domed ceiling.

Another reason Chicago is one of the most connected cities on the planet comes from its status as a research hub. The switching center on Northwestern University's Streeterville campus known as StarLight - jointly run by Northwestern, University of Illinois at Chicago and Argonne National Laboratory - connects to more than 100 research networks around the globe.

About SITOLA and UltraGrid
Laboratory of Advanced Network Technologies (SITOLA) was founded in 2002 by the Masaryk University and CESNET Association as a joint workplace for research and development of advanced network technologies and applications. UltraGrid is an open-source framework for low-latency network transmissions of HD and post-HD video. Originating from ISI EAST, the UltraGrid is now developed at SITOLA and the development is mainly funded by CESNET. Focus of UltraGrid is on maximum image quality and minimum latency available on commodity hardware. Depending on available network capacity, the video can be transmitted as uncompressed or compressed. Research focuses on acceleration of video processing and compressions using graphics processors (GPUs) and user-empowered multipoint data distribution. UltraGrid is available for Linux and MacOS X from or

About EVL and SAGE
The Electronic Visualization Laboratory (EVL) at University of Illinois at Chicago is an internationally renowned interdisciplinary research laboratory specializing in the design and development of high-performance visualization, virtual-reality and collaboration display systems utilizing advanced networking. SAGE, the Scalable Adaptive Graphics Environment, is cross-platform, open-source middleware that enables users worldwide to have a common operating environment, or framework, to access, display and share a variety of data-intensive information on one or more tiled display walls, with the same ease that the Web affords for accessing lower-resolution objects today

About iCAIR
The International Center for Advanced Internet Research (iCAIR) at Northwestern University accelerates leading-edge innovation and enhanced global communications through advanced technologies, in partnership with numerous international communities and national partners. iCAIR partners with EVL at University of Illinois at Chicago, Argonne National Laboratory and Calit2/UCSD, in collaboration with Canada's CANARIE and the Netherlands' SURFnet, to manage and grow the StarLight International/National Communications Exchange Facility.