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  1. Technology
April 8, 1996


By CBR Staff Writer

As part of Sun Microsystems Inc’s recent Internet roll-out, Palo Alto, California-based start-up VXtreme Inc was demonstrating its new LiveScreen software-only video streaming compression and synchronization technology for all popular formats, including MPEG-1, on the Netras. The software enables video to participate as a first-class citizen on browsers and to drive and be synchronized with other on-screen applications. It demonstrated a presenter in a video window talking while related text slides were displayed in the browser, with Java applets highlighting key points in the text as they were discussed. The LiveScreen software maintains synchronization between the applications – video, browser and applets. Users can also control the applications separately so that the video can be paused while reading text in the browser. The software automatically sizes the video window to provide the best resolution for the available bandwidth. Companies that make add-in boards for video take note. The company claims that it can deliver 15 frames a second of 320 by 240 video at 128Kbps for applications such as Internet-based sales training. For videoconferencing, it says that it can deliver 160 by 120 pixel video at 28.8Kbps – or five frames a second at 11Kbps for 14.4Kbps modems. It can encode 320 by 240 video at 30 frames per second on a 133MHz Pentium. An uncompressed hour-long video – some 100Gb – would take 320 days to download over a 28.8Kbps modem at 640 by 480 resolution at 30 frames per second, 22 hours over 10Mbps Ethernet. VXtreme claims other codecs, including MPEG-1, MPEG-2, H.261, Intel Corp’s Video Interactive, VDONet Corp’s VDOWave, Xing Technology Corp’s MPEG, Precept Software Inc’s intra-H.261, Radius Inc’s CinePak and Horizon Technologies Inc’s TrueMotion-S can’t touch it. Discrete cosine transform and motion estimation techniques (MPEG and H.261) require hardware support for encoding and do not offer embedded scalability and are expensive. Wavelet technology – Intel Indeo, VDONet VDOWave – is scalable but offers less compression and requires more CPU clocks. Instead of requiring a separate add-in board for each video stream, LiveScreen can decompress as many streams as the CPU can drive – up to 16 on Sun’s Netra (the screen’s limit; the CPU was working at 50% capacity). In addition, by using one compression and nine decompression streams, it can provide 10-way videoconferencing. VXtreme – a firm put together just for this purpose – says it is delivering now what the industry had previously thought was 18 months or two years out. Its three technologies are compression, network delivery and LiveScreen. It will create products next quarter for Unix, Mac and Microsoft systems. It is in talks now about how those products will get to market but has not struck any deals with anybody, not even with Sun. Viewers could be downloadable or supplied in browsers and Net applications. VXtreme chief executive Diane Greene was formerly database, video and multimedia projects manager at Silicon Graphics Inc.

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