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September 2, 2021

Moving Towards ATSC 3.0 (NextGen TV) with Ittiam Multimedia Software Offerings

Kaustubh Patankar (Senior Director, Advanced Video)
Harish S (Senior Manager, Technical Sales)

Reading time: 8 min

Introduction

Over the last two decades, TV broadcast worldwide has seen multiple transitions – from analog to digital transmission, SD video to HD, and now the building momentum towards widespread UHD TV adoption. ATSC 3.0, also called as Next Gen TV, is one of the latest standards for UHD TV broadcast. ATSC 3.0 promises the viewer rich picture quality, immersive audio, interactive content and more robust in-home and mobile reception. To the broadcasters, ATSC 3.0 offers several new monetization opportunities like targeted geo-tagged advertisements, datacasting, video-on-demand, and the highly valuable improved viewership metrics.

In this blog, we will take a closer look at ATSC 3.0, its features and how it is geared up to become all-pervasive across key geographies in coming years. We will look at Ittiam’s Multimedia software offerings as important enablers for this unfolding revolution.

A short peek into ATSC 3.0

ATSC 3.0 or Next-Gen TV is a collection of standards from Advanced television systems committee (ATSC) for delivery of UHD TV content. It incorporates many features and technologies hitherto not found in the earlier broadcast standards.

ATSC-3.0-A-bundle-of-new-features-and-technologies
Table 1 : ATSC 3.0 highlights
ATSC-3.0-A-bundle-of-new-features-and-technologies
Figure 1: ATSC 3.0: A bundle of new features and technologies

Hybrid Delivery is a key feature of ATSC 3.0 which allows delivery of TV content through Over-The-Air (OTA Terrestrial broadcast) and OTT (IP based over broadband) channels.

  • For Hybrid delivery, ATSC 3.0 Transmitters use MPEG-DASH protocol for streaming audio and video segments over OTA and OTT channels.
  • At the ATSC 3.0 receiver (E.g., TV, STB), a MPEG-DASH client receives both OTA and OTT streams from transmitter and combines them. The broadband channel provides return path for user interaction with the service.

Hybrid delivery option of ATSC 3.0 provides great flexibility compared to conventional terrestrial broadcast. It also opens up massive new possibilities including interactive services such as Datacasting, VoD and DVR for viewers with internet access by leveraging the broadband forward and return paths. OTA channel supports transmission of FHD video content while OTT (broadband) can deliver up to 4K UHD content.

The hybrid delivery concept is illustrated in Fig 2.

ATSC-3.0-hybrid-delivery-over-the-air-broadband.jpg
Figure 2: ATSC 3.0 hybrid delivery

ATSC 3.0 adoption and support in client devices

For a long time, different broadcast standards have been serving individual geographies. While DVB is the predominant broadcast standard in Europe, ASTC is popular in North America & Korea while ISDB and its variants are popular in Japan & South America. This general trend of different standards serving terrestrial broadcast in regional silos is expected to continue. ATSC 3.0 is positioned well to thrive in North America and Korea regions.

South Korea took the first lead in deployment. It has been airing ATSC 3.0 UHDTV content since 2017.

  • In the US, ATSC 3.0 is increasingly being embraced by broadcasters. It is already on air in 25+ US markets and is expected to cross 70+ markets by end of 2021.
  • In terms of client (edge device) support, several TV models with built-in ATSC 3.0 receivers are currently available and many more are expected to roll out.
  • Lately ATSC 3.0 capable mobile devices have also been launched.

From the above, initial critical-mass for ATSC 3.0 deployment has been well established. The momentum is now shifting towards accelerated and rapid roll-out of ATSC 3.0 transmission by broadcasters. A huge diverse set of end points and innovative services are thus well primed to be ‘ATSC 3.0 enabled’ and available next. The product list includes STBs, handhelds, In-Vehicle-Infotainment (IVI) units and streaming devices (Figure 3).

However, to enable feature rich ATSC 3.0 support in these products in a cost efficient, reliable and quick way, there is strong need for ready and proven, high performance, highly optimized key building blocks such as video & audio codecs, transcoders and multimedia software IPs for ATSC servers and client devices.

Ittiam Multimedia software offerings

For close to two decades, Ittiam has specialized in delivering highly optimized video, audio software codecs and IPs with best-in-class performance. With deployments in 100 Million+ devices across CE, smart living, wearables, automotive, online video and broadcast market segments, Ittiam’s ‘ready and proven’ video and audio software IPs enable customers to deliver differentiated products while significantly helping them shorten time-to-market cycles and reduce unit costs.

In addition to Ittiam’s off-the-shelf software IP offerings for video and audio, many customers also leverage Ittiam’s close to 2 decades of video and audio technology expertise in consulting in Multimedia technologies. Ittiam has also made significant contributions to open source video codec initiatives like libvp9 and SVT-AV1 in partnership with industry leaders.

Ittiam’s offering for ATSC 3.0 includes off-the-shelf and proven key building blocks for deployment in servers & client devices and consulting in Multimedia technologies.

  • For Server (Intel x86 based): Optimized HEVC Main10 Encoder and AI Media Transcoder (available as container for ready integration)
  • For Client devices (ARM® based SoCs): Optimized HEVC Main10 Decoder and MPEG-H 3D Audio decoder
Ittiam-ATSC-3.0-offerings-for-server-and-client-devices
Figure 3: Ittiam ATSC 3.0 offerings for server and client devices

Ittiam’s standard compliant, highly optimized MPEG-H 3D audio decoder supports Low complexity profile up to L3 and is readily available for ARM® Cortex®-A. It can be readily delivered for other platforms like Intel x86 and popular DSPs as well.
Ittiam’s optimized HEVC Main10 decoder is standard compliant and readily available for ARM Cortex A.

Conclusion

ATSC 3.0 is the new unified standard for broadcasters and OTT providers for delivering next-generation TV content and web-like experience to viewers. Hybrid delivery option offered by ATSC 3.0 leveraging the broadband path means content consumption will go beyond conventional broadcast end points like TVs and STBs. With the growing call from users for feature-packed products with high power efficiency and longer battery operation between charging cycles, incorporating highly optimized and proven video and audio codecs in ATSC 3.0 end products and services will be a key differentiator for OEMs and service providers.

Ittiam’s proven optimized HEVC Main10 and MPEG-H 3D audio codecs can be key enablers for the unfolding revolution.

Want to know more about Ittiam’s MPEG-H 3D audio and HEVC Main10 decoders? Reach us at mkt@ittiam.com and learn the reasons top brands choose Ittiam audio codecs for their upcoming products and applications. We will be glad to help with further details including product datasheets and evaluations.

Request MPEG-H 3D audio and HEVC Main10 decoder datasheets: MPEG-H Decoder datasheet (ARM® Cortex®-A), HEVC Main10 Decoder datasheet (ARM® Cortex®-A)

Please read our blogs on:  MPEG-H audio decoder for Immersive 3D Audio, LC3 codecs for Bluetooth® LE Audio

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