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January 3, 2023

Nyriad & Atto Enable Real-Time Network Editing of 8K Video

As was highlighted by NHK in our recent article (Is 8K Production Difficult? The Answer is NO), 8K content production is increasingly becoming as simple as 4K or HD production. We caught up with Nyriad, a maker of storage systems that has been working in this area, and recently published a case study that highlighted how a client, Digital Image, had made substantial time savings by optimizing its storage systems with 6K and above being used for content creation. We wanted to dig into what Nyriad, working with Atto, a developer of network interface systems, could do for 8K. We spoke to Brian Cook and Andrew Russell from Nyriad.

One of the big takeaways from the conversation is that a well-designed storage system allows editing of the original 8K camera files without needing proxies.

Block Storage Can Make the System Transparent

Nyriad is a developer of a ‘block-based’ storage system called UltraIO that can operate on a network as though they are local devices/drives attached to client devices on the network. They connect via iSCSI or InfiniBand interface protocols. The appliances can also work transparently through cloud-based systems such as creative.space or via intermediate systems acting as file servers such as Linux-based systems. The significant advantage of this is that the storage system can deliver very high levels of bandwidth while effectively, as the firm told us, ‘making the storage system unseen’, which is its target. The storage system can deliver up to 20 GB/second (note that is bytes, not the bits we are used to in video!). 

The Atto + Nyriad Architecture

IT processes can always be considered as consisting of input, output, processing, and storage. These days Apple Mac PCs using M-series processors and Windows PCs with recent high-end processors and GPUs can process well, but you have to be able to get the data into and out of the PC. That’s where Atto comes in. A Mac Mini fitted with an ATTO Thunderbolt 3 network interface (described as ‘the fast glue’ in our call) can input or output up to three GB/second, which is plenty to deal with 8K/60P video in most video formats. A Windows 10 Pro workstation can also be supported.

Nyriad said the latency is pretty instant, with ‘little or no’ latency when using the Atto interfaces.

The Atto Thunderbolt NS3252 can be used with an M1-based Mac

There are other advantages to the UltraIO approach:

  • The storage system uses ‘erasure coding’ at the block level. That is more efficient than RAID configurations but uses a lot of processing, especially to achieve high speed. Nyriad uses GPUs for the processing as the firm told us it found GPUs to be better than CPUs where you are trying to perform many relatively simple operations. The GPUs are better where you can do much more parallel processing.
  • Erasure coding can allow up to 90% of the total capacity of the disks to be used in the firm’s architecture.
  • The firm told us that the erasure coding, which can reconstruct data from specially calculated parity blocks, can support up to 10% of disk loss without any concern about data loss (using Nyriad’s patented architecture). Up to 10% can be lost without a performance hit, too. Russell said that you could have 100 or 200 drives in an array, which should give some comfort to users and is unique in the industry.
  • One alternative solution to Nyriad is to use RAID striping. However, moving to simple RAID striping can risk losing data. 
  • With workstations taking up to 3GB/second and an overall system performance of 20GB/second, multiple users can work on the same system simultaneously. Russell told us that there is no absolute limit to the number of users, but performance will depend on their demand level. However, having multiple users working on the same system with 8K content is not a problem. Nyriad has seen multiple edit rooms working on the same content with no problem.
  • Because you can work at the full resolution, there is no need for proxies or other processes to mitigate potential delays in access and processing. There is no need for a proxy creation process, which can save time.
  • Nyriad has done work on benchmarking on codecs such as Blackmagic Raw, as well as using ATTO’s benchmarking tools.

Nyriad published a case study (available for download from its website https://www.nyriad.io/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/Digital-Image-CaseStudy-Reduced.pdf) that describes how Digital Image (dimage.com) said that it had seen a 2.5x performance benefit from the use of an UltraIO storage system, and had saved up to 2.5 days on a project. It has also made processing time more consistent, aiding predictability. Back-up times and restore times are also big savings for backed-up workstations.

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