Toshiba to sell video servers that use streaming hardware instead of CPU, memory

The Japanese company plans to begin sales this year and says they can triple the number of video streams from some servers

Toshiba said Monday it has developed hardware for servers that encodes and sends video streams without using CPU or memory, greatly increasing the number of streams that can be broadcast from a single machine.

In personal computers, video cards and other hardware have long been used to lessen the load on the main processor for intensive encoding and gaming applications. But Toshiba said its NPEngine is the first such solution for servers that can stream directly from solid-state drives to networks.

The company said the new hardware can stream 64,000 video streams at 40 gigabits per second, about three times that of one of its standard servers. It can handle IPTV (Internet Protocol television) as well as HTTP adaptive streaming.

The hardware will be included in Toshiba servers from this year, which typically cost ¥5 million to ¥8 million (US$62,000 to $98,000), and will not be available as a separate component.

While large Internet companies like Google and Facebook typically rely on large server farms filled with cheap, custom-built machines to serve their content, smaller companies use pricier, advanced servers that have better reliability. Competition for sales of lucrative high-end machines is building as manufacturers like IBM and Fujitsu face new rivals in traditional software companies like Oracle and SAP, which are increasingly marketing servers that are custom-built to support their applications.

Toshiba will display the technology at the NAB Show that starts in Las Vegas on Saturday. The trade show, put on by the National Association of Broadcasters, focuses on broadcasting hardware and software.

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