Youtube 4K, for realz?!!!!!

Posted by – July 9, 2010

Google announced this new resolution support on Youtube a bit weirdly: 4K is 4096×3072 thus 3072p. It is not “4096p” and not “1096 x 3072 pixels”. Or is 4K supposed to amount to 4 Million pixels? Here’s the text from Youtube’s announcement (as posted at this moment to http://youtube-global.blogspot.com/2010/07/whats-bigger-than-1080p-4k-video-comes.html):

Today at the VidCon 2010 conference, we announced support for videos shot in 4K (a reference resolution of 4096 x 3072), meaning that now we support original video resolution from 360p all the way up to 4096p.

We always want videos on YouTube to be available in the highest quality possible, as creators intend. In December of last year, we announced support for 1080p, or full HD. At 1096 x 3072 pixels, 4K is nearly four times the size of 1080p. To view any video in a source resolution greater than 1080p, select “Original” in the video quality pulldown menu:

Here’s my reaction:

– WHOAAAWWW! Is this 1st of April or something? Is Google talking for real?

– What is the bitrate going to be for 4K? My guess, based on calculating the bitrate per pixel of 2mbit/s for Youtube 720p and 4mbit/s for Youtube 1080p is that for 4K it would be something like 24mbit/s. That’s within the same bitrate as our 15 year old DV format (like miniDV tapes). That’s like the top bitrate established for 1080p AVCHD format. This is totally manageable! We can get 50mbit/s and 100mbit/s “easilly” over here in Scandinavia. If Google would provide full bandwidth delivery of Youtube 4K worldwide, we could seriously enjoy this!

– I wish the LCD and Projector industry focus on making Quad HD or 4K screens (however they should be called) instead of that 3D fad thing. Logically, thanks to Youtube 4K, we could be getting 4K HDTVs and projectors for less than $1000 by this time next year. Because the processors are already ready, they just need to be put into mass manufactured screens and projectors.

Another point in Youtube’s announcement that I would like to learn something about and maybe start to counter:

To give some perspective on the size of 4K, the ideal screen size for a 4K video is 25 feet; IMAX movies are projected through two 2k resolution projectors.

I have seen Quad HD LCD screens at trade shows. Those were in the 50-82″ range I think. They are absolutely amazing (Sergey Brin has one), some of the most impressive demonstrations I have ever seen in going to most of the trade shows since 2005. See my video of the Samsung 3840x2160p 82″ LCD HDTV. See my video of the JVC 4K2K HDTV and Projector.

I believe that one can see higher than 1080p on HDTV starting below 50″ sizes. The iPhone 4 has a 326DPI 3.5″ screen. I don’t see why we can’t get higher DPI on our HDTVs than 52DPI on a 42″ HDTV? Why should the iPhone 4 have a 6x higher DPI than my 42″ 1080p Full HD HDTV? If they were to put 4K processor in my 42″ HDTV, it would still “only” have a 111DPI, still much less than what they have done on the iPhone 4. Sure my 42″ HDTV has 132 times larger surface area than an iPhone (a 42″ HDTV could fit 132 of iPhone’s screens), if you want to set a standard for what the DPI per field of vision should be based on the iPhone 4 held at half arms length (50cm) with 326DPI screen, then a 42″ HDTV with 4K screen of 111DPI would need to be seen within 1.5 meters of a distance to get the same effect. Usually a sofa is placed 4-6 meters away from the LCD HDTV. Perhaps people will want to sit closer to the screen to experience something closer to 4K quality. At the photo exhibitions and museums of paintings, it is common for people to approach the images at distances closer than 1 meter to appreciate the details in the image. Perhaps 4K would be more suitable sizes above 50″ and preferably perhaps even above 60″ in diagonal. 67″ 4K HDTV would have a 70DPI thus achieve same pixels per angle of view at 2.5 meters distance. 65″ 1080p HDTV is $2500 today at Best Buy, how much more would it cost to include the latest 4K processor in there to stream 4K contents from Youtube 4K? Perhaps 4K HDTVs in the living room can be displaying any of our existing 12megapixel images taken with any recent digital photo camera, slideshows on a 4K screen look awesome. Thus Picasa could be streaming out some amazing customized and personalized slideshows, to be marvelled at in the living room at closer distance than usual.

Another point in Youtube’s announcement that I would like to discuss:

Because 4K represents the highest quality of video available, there are a few limitations that you should be aware of. First off, video cameras that shoot in 4K aren’t cheap, and projectors that show videos in 4K are typically the size of a small refrigerator. And, as we mentioned, watching these videos on YouTube will require super-fast broadband.

Now, let’s discuss, when are cheap 4K encoders going to be available? What hardware is required in the camcorder to encode that resolution effectively (and not also use up too much bandwidth in its compression). How expensive are the 4K decoders really?

Is 4K support something that could come with the upcoming ARM Cortex A9 processors?

I would think that this could be a nice challenge for ARM processor providers to work towards. They have now reached 1080p playback for a while already, even though it only really comes with ARM Cortex A9 to small low power consumer devices. Media streamers though have done 1080p playback for a few years already. I filmed the first 1080p KiSS Technology players at CeBIT 2004:

With Moore’s law, doubling of playback processing every 18 months, 4K decoders should have been ready since the second half of 2008 already, and in Set-top-box devices that shouldn’t cost more than the KiSS Technology DP-600 shown in 2004, less than $300 today? Perhaps next year we will be able to see Google TV boxes with 4K and Youtube 4K streaming support on $2K 65″ 4K LCD HDTVs or $1K 4K projectors?

  • http://twitter.com/ganeshts Ganesh

    Charbax,

    Thanks for the excellent analysis. I second your view that 3D is an unwanted distraction for TV manufacturers (if they are going to go that route, at least think of some technology which doesn't require special glasses). Higher resolution is where we want to go towards in order to make videos look more life-like.

    That said, I am not in entire agreement with you about ARM doing something special about 4K videos. In fact, Cortex-A9 (or its NEON engine, for that matter) and its successors will not have power efficient architectures (both hardware / software wise) for 4K video processing. Consumers will have to rely on companies which use their IP (like TI or Broadcom or Sigma Designs — the last one is a MIPS house currently) to further the user experience.

  • MagnetMan

    This is great. Google is really pushing the boundaries on bandwidth. As internet users demand these videos, ISPs will have to adapt with new technologies, which means higher bandwidth for all!

    4K would add a new sense of realism with the insane res!

    BTW, I would wager that 3D is not a fad. ;)

  • http://ARMdevices.net/ Charbax

    Yup, this will be one of the services by Google on that gigabit fiber project of theirs. With one of those 4K decoders, the Google TV box with 4K support could probably be made available for not that much more expensive than basic 1080p ones.

    3D on Nintendo 3DS might be cool, but I think many people will want to disable 3D on the Nintendo portable after few minutes because it probably is hard on the eyes after a while. But it will be a cool thing to come back to regularly. While those polarized glasses on 3D HDTVs, for one it should not require more expensive TVs as it's only about using 120hz refresh rates, which have been available for a while already. Then, 3D content, even Avatar, I think are produced with the totally wrong ideas and concepts in mind. Movies and TV shows are not supposed to be like roller coaster rides.

  • http://ARMdevices.net/ Charbax

    Yup, 4K would be done on that part of the SoC that is similar to the Mali 400 right?

    Sigma Designs never work on ARM platforms? I believe they may have been the first with 1080p DivX/H264 decoders for media streamers like the KiSS Technology ones as far back as 2004. How about the Realtek based media players which seem to currently dominate the 1080p media streamer market, could any of those IPs combine forces with ARM processors?

  • http://twitter.com/ganeshts Ganesh

    Charbax,

    No, 4K part wouldn't be done on the Mali.. The Mali 400 can handle only the graphics overlays and on-screen-displays (OSD) and similar stuff. The video encoder / decoder IP is different (similar to PowerVR VXD line — PowerVR SGX line is similar to Mali). I am not sure ARM even has anything to compete with the PowerVR VXD line.

    I am also not sure about Sigma Designs and ARM. What I know definitely is that all the chips they released in last 2 – 3 years have been based on MIPS (and ARM never has been dominant in the STB market). Realtek also uses MIPS only. From the IP integrators list, I believe only Mediatek (and of late, Telechips) have been using ARM as the host processor vendor.

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  • http://www.youtube.com/user/dntpay4sftware Maxhd

    Are we the only humans, obviously male humans, that are even aware of this magnificent HD chess move? Apparently, 4k was introduced 5 years ago at some global video chat movie theater. Now, my mind tends to fill things in. So, don't quote me, but I believe it was a theater in Japan video conferincing a theater in California? Anyway they both had 4k screens 100Mbps-1Gbps streaming infrastructure. They showed the technology as a two pan global theater with 2XImax Screens and they were showing demonstrating, really the future of Movie theaters, Internet video streaming and it was not fake. They already had the technology and they showed how the infrastructure would be needed but nothing major. Everything is fiber-optic now, until you get to the Neighborhood or City Block and there changes need to happen. but they need to anyway. Do you know there are still T-1 customers, paying over $1000 for a dedicated line that only gets 1-5Mbps. Cable modems are as fast and faster.
    As for the 2k and 4K formats. It is not a CODEC in purest form, it is like a big Hollywood Motion Picture Camera, but instead of shitty 35mm celluloid. It is like 35 mm RAW digital video in RGB colorspaces, so 2bit up to 32bit color depths, check out http://www.red.com these are the cameras. However, I have already, successfully converted a 56mb 480p 0.5Mbps mp4 from you tube to a 162GB 2048×1152=1152p 16Mbps 2K 23.999bits per pixel 1:1 pixel aspect. So, Basically Digital IMAX quality with 16:9AR on youtube. Awesome. There is no going back. I can't really do 4K because you really need 4GB's of RAM or more for the rendering not to crash.

    ONE HORRIBLE DOWNSIDE…THE 162GB 5mn video finally uploaded, the total upload time was about 5 days/6nights. Weird. It was like I had a 56k modem, but I could still mess around on the internet and the power did not go out. But, my relentless optimism decided that was what it took to get these beasts on you tube. I can't even watch 2K fluidly with my 1080i HD screen and NViDIA CUDA 512mb video card out DVI to HDMI. It is choppy. But, my neverending belief that use must destroy (not really) all that you have to gain, worked beautifully.
    Along with you tubes, support for my belief, I could not get the next 2K video to upload, it would fail after like 30 seconds. So, I'm thinking it is to big of an upload or something, So, I encode the 2K RAW video to a basempc AVC/AAC MP4 file, but I somehow force it to keep the 2048X1152p Pixel AR and not drop to 1080p. I was so over it at that point. From trying everything. I clicked save for a 2048X1152 23.976 Frame rate no interleaving progressive scan 1:1 pixel AR 16:9 Screen AR. The file rendered in 20 min. It size went from over a 100GB to 100MB and everything retained but the bit rate it was like 1748Kbps instead of 16Mbps. ANYWAY, THE VIDEO WAS 2K QUALITY AT 1/10TH THE SIZE. From 2K to MP4 and uploaded to youtube, about 1.5-2hrs not 5days. The “unlimited setting came up and it is golden.
    SEE all this Codec technology paid off. Apparently compressing a digital RAW video 1/10th the size does not lose quality.
    Those codecs should be great a shrinking files by now. It is the decompressing that they are horrible at. Thanks for listening and Say NO to 3D and Yes to 2K4K HD
    Seriously, stick with what we know, that is giant HD Video displayed on a 2D screen with killer 3D surfaces, like most games. 3D was a fad when I say Nightmare on Elmstreet 5 3D and had the RGB plastic glasses. Now it is a total flop. They are using essentially the same 3D rendering but the RGB glasses are proprietary and digitized and the video quality is better but it is not even close to 4K HD video quality. Of course people don't want to use the glasses, they suck so what are the working on no glasses 3D…but..you have to sit in the same spot for the entire movie or the 3D effect won't work. Super week.
    ONCE AGAIN QUALITY=FINISHED PRODUCT/COST. IF YOU DESIGN QUALITY INTO THE PRODUCT IN THE FIRST PLACE, YOU GET BETTER QUALITY AND LOWER THE COST. BUT MOST BUSINESS ENTITIES SEE THE COST AS THE FIRST PRIORITY TO LOWER. Guess what? The cost goes down, the product is mediocre and the quality sucks.

    Aloha and Mahalo!

    –dntpay4sftware

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