Spin Digital Launches 8K VVC Decoder and Player

by Chris Chinnock

8K Association member Spin Digital has announced the availability of an 8K real-time software decoder and media player with support for the Versatile Video Coding (VVC) standard.  VVC or H.266 is a next-generation codec that could be one option to open up the 8K distribution opportunity. While some players think it better to focus on optimizing existing codecs like HEVC, the 8K Association is agnostic, supporting any and all solutions to speed availability of 8K content distribution.

Spin Digital’s VVC compatible real-time software video decoder has been integrated into a complete media player that supports the full 8K format including higher pixel counts, High Dynamic Range (HDR), Wide Color Gamut (WCG), and High Frame Rates (HFR).

According to Mauricio Alvarez Mesa, CEO of Spin Digital, “The software decoder is very flexible for frame rates. We achieved decoding performance of up to 200 fps, but for practical playback applications, the player can be configured for standard frame rates (24, 25, 50, 60 Hz) or high frame rates (100, 120 Hz).  For 50/60 fps the player supports HDMI 2.1 (GPU-based rendering) or 4x 12G SDI (CPU-based rendering) interfaces.”

The VVC decoder has been included in Spin Digital SDK for simplifying the development of next-generation video applications with enhanced visual experience at low bitrates.

“We are performing some tests to find a good configuration and bitrate recommendation for VVC for 8Kp60 4:2:0 10-bit HDR (PQ),” continued Alvarez Mesa. “Our initial results show that you can achieve 40 to 50% bitrate reduction compared to HEVC (at the same quality).”

In addition to compression gains, VVC/H.266 includes tools for efficient compression of HDR videos, adaptive streaming, spatial scalability, screen content, and 360° video. The VVC/H.266 standard has the ability to compress 8K video at unprecedented low bitrates enabling efficient transmission over current and future distribution networks.

VVC also supports scalability, a technique for efficiently coding video in multiple layers, each layer representing a higher resolution or quality of the same video. So a lower capacity display or a device streaming from a poor network could use just the base layer say for HD, then if the network improves, one enhancement layer can be used to bring up the resolution to 4K and another on top, for 8K. This saves significant bandwidth compared to the existing Adaptive Bitrate (ABR) mechanisms where each profile carries the same data as lower ones. 8K services can thus be deployed with scalability-by-design in order to support networks, receivers, and display devices with different capabilities in a cost-effective manner.

Spin Digital’s VVC decoder also processes scalable streams in real-time allowing users to select the desired layers for display. The new VVC player has been tested with scalable streams that contain 4K (UHD) and 8K layers.

In terms of a hardware configuration for the SDK, Alvarez Mesa said, “With the recommended platform (a recent CPU with 28 cores), we can process 8Kp60 VVC up to ~150 Mbit/s. Higher bitrates can be achieved with more powerful CPUs. For 8Kp120 we recommend a CPU with 2×32 cores that can process up to 500 Mbit/s.”

A preview version of the 8K VVC decoder and media player is available now.

The main specifications of the media player are summarized in the table below:

VVC codec profiles Main 10, Multilayer Main 10
Resolutions and frame rates 8Kp @ 24, 25, 50, 60, 100, 120 fps
Chroma format 4:2:0
Bit depths 8-bit, 10-bit
Color gamuts BT.601, BT.709, DCI-P3, BT.2020
Transfer functions SDR: BT.1886 (BT.709), sRGB
HDR: HDR10 (ST2084), HLG (STD-B67)
Scalability modes Temporal, spatial, quality (SNR)
Recommended CPU for 8Kp60 Intel Xeon Gold 6330 (28 cores)
Recommended CPU for 8Kp120 2x Intel Xeon Gold 6338 (2x 32 cores)
Rendering devices GPU (HDMI 2.1): NVIDIA RTX 3000 Series
SDI: AJA Kona 5, AJA Corvid 44 12G