AWS recently announced the general availability of Amazon EC2 VT1 instances, the first instances optimized for video transcoding. The new virtual machines feature hardware acceleration and are designed for workloads such as live broadcast, video conferencing, and just-in-time transcoding.
The VT1 instances are available in three sizes, from 12 to 96 vCPU, and can support from 8 to 64 streams per instance. They offer up to 92GB of memory, 25 Gbps of enhanced networking, and 19 Gbps of EBS bandwidth. They are powered by Xilinx Alveo U30 media transcoding accelerator card and the H.264/AVC and H.265/HEVC codecs are integrated. Channy Yun, principal developer advocate for AWS, explains:
Global demand for video content has been rapidly increasing and now has the major audiences of Internet and mobile network traffic. Over-the-top streaming services such as Twitch continue to see an explosion of content creators who are seeking live delivery with great image quality, while live event broadcasters are increasingly looking to embrace agile cloud infrastructure to reduce costs without sacrificing reliability, and efficiently scale with demand.
According to the announcement, Twitch, the video live streaming service acquired by Amazon in 2014, is one of the early adopters of the new instances. Martin Hess, VP of the Twitch video platform, comments:
We are adopting Amazon EC2 VT1 instances to cost-efficiently transcode millions of live streams (…) we chose EC2 VT1 instances because they deliver the stream density and low latency we need without compromising on video compression or visual quality.
Chad Brewbaker, independent software engineer, tweets:
Need edge locations with lower ingress network costs to make this viable for content producers over buying their own hardware.
At long last… AWS has announced a highly-optimized EC2 instance type designed for low-cost live stream transcoding (…) What if you could: 1. Create CloudFormation template for VT1 & required components 2. Launch it 3. ‘Start Stream’ – OBS (…) 4. ‘Stop Stream’ 5. Destroy. (…) To stream 30 hrs/mo at 1080p60, then multi-stream to 5 destinations, the total cost/month is $61.75!
Beside instances optimized for video transcoding, the cloud provider also offers managed options like the file-based video transcoding service Elemental MediaConvert and the video processing service AWS Elemental MediaLive.
Other commonly used EC2 instances for transcoding live video streams are the G4dn GPU-based instances and the C5 CPU-based instances. The new VT1 instances start at $0.65/hr and are available in a small subset of regions, including North Virginia and Ireland. They will soon be available on AWS Outpost.