How Ateme & Scaleway are Working Toward More Sustainable TV Streaming

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Did you know that video streaming represents up to 60% of global internet traffic? And with the digital sector being responsible for nearly 4% of the world’s total greenhouse gas emissions, it’s high time all concerned parties played their part in reducing that impact, by working towards more sustainable TV streaming.

Scaleway, operator of Europe’s most sustainable data center, was as such a perfect fit for Ateme. But Ateme didn’t wait for Scaleway to start working on this crucial domain. Au contraire!

“We were concerned about video delivery’s global warming contribution, especially as viewers are increasingly shifting to more resource-hungry options like ultra-high definition (4K or 8K), and even interactive content, via 5G”, says Rémi Beaudouin, Chief Strategy Officer of Ateme.

So, while being aware that 72% of energy used by streaming comes from devices such as TVs and smartphones, Ateme set about reducing their part (the 23% that comes from transmission); and Scaleway about theirs (the 5% of streaming energy due to data centers).

The good news is that greener solutions not only reduce carbon emissions – they also save money! Indeed, the combined TITAN headend and NEA delivery solution have reduced the energy consumption of streaming video delivery by 67%.

How? By reducing storage, bandwidth, and hardware requirements.

Sustainable TV Streaming through better compression, for sending and storing the same quality in fewer bits

This is made possible thanks to Ateme’s expertise in codec development – meaning it can develop more efficient video compression – and its leveraging of microprocessor efficiencies. Moreover, the Ateme Quality Index (AQI) – which won the company a Technology & Engineering Emmy® Award this year – objectively measures video quality based on how humans actually perceive it, enabling new optimizations.

By combining artificial intelligence with AQI and intelligent scene-change detection, Ateme’s TITAN encoders achieve up to 66% of energy savings. As a result, service providers are consistently able to achieve the highest video quality at the lowest bitrates. And when compressing images that contain film grain, Ateme’s solution for Film Grain Synthesis – another Technology & Engineering Emmy Award® winner – enables an incredible 90% saving in processing power.

Sending and storing fewer profiles, fewer times

The Internet is unpredictable, with fluctuating traffic demands. To ensure the best viewing experience, video is encoded at a range of different resolution levels – the high-resolution content will be delivered if the network is not congested; the lower-resolution content if it is. These are known as different “profiles.” But storing and sending different profiles obviously requires more resources.

Two design choices make it possible to send and store fewer profiles, fewer times. One is Ateme’s Just-in-Time packaging – meaning you need to store only unpackaged content (just one version) rather than the content packaged for every potential requesting device. The other is having a single workflow for both live and time-shifted video, which potentially halves the number of profiles being generated and stored.

Optimizing the use of resources through cloud-native encoders and CDN

Based on Cloud-native technologies, Ateme’s encoders and Content Delivery Networks (CDN) can scale up and down in just minutes. This means they can meet peak requirements without requiring built-in over-capacity, as is often the case. The result is a huge cut in wasted capacity and therefore in hardware requirements.

Optimizing traffic thanks to analytics

By predicting consumer demand, you can anticipate the content’s processing and delivery requirements. Ateme’s solutions embed server-side analytics and we partner with client-side analytics leaders so these solutions can adjust the technology layer to what it is actually consumed. This leads to creating and storing only the content and profiles that are actually required – again leading to significant energy savings.

What’s next for sustainable TV streaming?

What’s next? Ateme will be able to leverage Scaleway’s green cloud resources, notably DC5, which is Europe’s most sustainable data center, in that it uses 40% less energy and 90% less water than standard installations.

How? “Our unique adiabatic technology means that DC5 doesn’t need to use air conditioning, which accounts for 40% of most data centers’ energy consumption”, says Albane Bruyas, COO of Scaleway. “Inspired by the Ancient Egyptians, the adiabatic system uses a simple principle of physics to cool air by passing it through a wall of moist paper”, says Bruyas. “This enables us to keep our servers well below 30°C (the limit fixed by most hardware design) , and we do so by using minimal water: just a few liters, whereas some modern data centers use 1 million cubic meters of drinking water per year.”

This way, Scaleway limits not only its data centers’ energy consumption, but also that of water too; and indeed, its facilities’ global impact on the planet as a whole. “We also work hard to reduce digital waste, by repairing and upcycling our servers to ensure they last for 10 years, versus the industry average of 3-5,” says Bruyas. “We also sell the components to a local association, Loxy, which works with underprivileged communities. So we contribute to the circular economy by giving back to society.”

A sustainable synergy then, that will contribute to reducing the environmental impact of our ever-growing demand for entertainment content. One to think about when you next Netflix & chill!