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How Does Audio Transcoding Affect Our Day-to-Day Lives?

Voice communications are increasingly transitioning to an all-IP environment. Many network operators and service providers are attempting to rapidly increase capacity by equipping themselves with an ever-increasing number of IP media servers and advanced flow devices to handle the growing demand of VoIP. Part of that demand includes handling the heterogeneous mix of VoIP edge devices, core servers, and audio codecs employed in each end-to-end communication. Transcoding, for example, is required at multiple stages to convert between audio codecs. Audio transcoding, especially voice transcoding (as distinct from music transcoding), can have a significant impact in telecom applications like:
  • Session board controllers
  • Media gateways and servers
  • Servers or media resource appliances
  • Content optimization
  • Interactive voice response systems
The increase in VoIP communications being transcoded through general-purposes host media processing has resulted in excessive power use and unnecessarily high cost-per-channel transcoding. Conference call VoIP applications, like Zoom or Microsoft Teams, use standards-based audio codecs like EVRC, OPUS, SILK and the newer and more complex EVS codec. The simultaneous rise in VoLTE and Vo5G for traditional calls is making it more important than ever to find more efficient ways to handle all types of VoIP applications. Transcoding multiple channels in real time at high densities is a computationally intensive task. It represented a significant percentage of bandwidth consumption during the pandemic when so many workers were simultaneously conferencing and speaking remotely. Switching audio transcoding to specialty processing solutions, like digital signal processors (DSP) or ASICs, is often more efficient and cost-effective than relying solely on existing server processors alone. Using DSP-based technology can help ensure needed resources aren’t being gobbled up by increased demand for audio transcoding. Traditionally, networks would simply add additional servers to increase processing power and keep up with increased audio transcoding demand. The problem is these servers take up space and can have a cost-prohibitive impact on an operator’s bottom line. Instead of adding servers, these operators could simply invest in space-saving PCI Express cards with DSP processors and an embedded audio transcoding software framework. VoIP tasks can then be offloaded to the PCI Express cards, increasing the number of audio channels a single server can provide. Penguin Edge’s audio transcoding PCI Express cards boast a sophisticated network-proven framework that enables transcoding, signaling and call management functionality, all of which can be accessed through an API interface. The benefits of using a solution like this to bolster VoIP server bandwidth include:
  • Significantly reduced development resources
  • Dramatically accelerated time-to market
  • Reduced maintenance costs
  • Development team resources freed up for other projects

PCIE-8130 Features and Benefits vs. Standalone Servers

  • Up to 4x improvement in cost-per-channel transcode (depending on configuration and application)
  • Up to 10x reduction in watts-per-channel transcode
  • Software-definable nature allows for future codec compatibility
The PCIE-8130 reduces server processing requirements for VoIP transcoding by utilizing high-performance DSP-based technology. Each board has a number of low-power DSP devices, each running voice processing software. Performance of the boards scales linearly with the number of DSPs that are fitted. Half-length PCIe cards can contain four or six DSPs and full-length cards can contain as many as 12 DSPs. A card with four DSPs, which consumes less than 60W, delivers the voice transcoding performance of a server consuming 300W or more (estimated 5,000 channels of G.711 20ms converted to/from AMR).

Learn More About Penguin Edge’s Audio Transcoding Technology

An increased reliance on teleconferencing and VoIP will likely be one of the many lasting legacies of COVID-19. The demand for these platforms is not going away, but that doesn’t necessarily mean network operators and service providers need to drastically increase their power usage and server space. Penguin Edge’s PCIE-8130 is just one example of a small, affordable solution that will allow you to do more with your existing infrastructure. Call us at 602-438-5720 to learn more about our innovative efforts in improving the quality of transcoding while reducing your watts and cost per channel.