Video Production Software on ARM Processors

Apple M1 Silicon, Windows ARM – environments are changing. Is your software ready?

Apple recently announced their shift to the M1, part of an ongoing trend to replace the long-standing x86 CPU with customized ARM processors. Microsoft and other OEMs have also been releasing an increasing number of devices powered by ARM chips, such as the Surface. While this change might not necessitate preparation in consumer circles, software providers are certainly taking notice.

Video Production Faces Unique Challenges

Video production workflows face unique challenges, often demanding immense processing power and the flexibility to operate across a variety of devices and formats. With the introduction of ARM-powered devices, video software providers need to think critically about how they rearchitect their applications to protect the user experience.

Among the most important considerations is codec performance, and how to maintain the advantages of using highly optimized encoders, decoders, and supporting components. The bottom line is that your software should perform reliably, regardless of the device or processor it's run on – and that will require a new era of optimization and choosing the right low-level technology.

How is MainConcept preparing for ARM?

MainConcept is well ahead of the curve in adapting technology for ARM. After completing a rigorous beta program, in December we released MainConcept ARM Desktop SDK 1.0, offering the same MainConcept software optimized for ARM; a familiar API, expanded functionality, professional camcorders support, and more.

This year we’ve worked with customers to test and improve the ARM SDK lineup so that we can offer the same quality and performance advantages as with our x86 optimized SDKs. There’s a reason MainConcept has been in this business for so long – we anticipate changes, optimize performance beyond what’s available elsewhere, and help our customers to adapt. ARM is a perfect example of this core value.

Codec performance comparison: Benchmarks for Apple M1 and Windows on ARM

Thanks to various conversion and emulation programs, your software may work out-of-the-box when moving to ARM architecture. But working doesn't necessarily mean all functionality is present, and perhaps more importantly, that performance will be at the expected level. What's missing? Optimization, the secret sauce that provides you with a competitive advantage. This is where MainConcept excels.

Optimization can best be illustrated through the improvements we’ve made between our beta and commercial software releases. In the few months between releases, our optimizations for Apple and Windows on ARM have resulted in an over 2X performance increase. Below we will demonstrate performance comparisons between standard and optimized software releases on the latest Mac mini with the Apple M1 chip and the Windows ARM-based Microsoft Surface Pro X (Processor: SQ1 @ 3.0 GHz, RAM: 15.9 GB).

Performance Optimization on Mac OSX ARM

MainConcept AVC/H.264 on ARM
MainConcept AVC is optimized for up to 2.1X faster encoding, and 1.9X faster decoding when compared to a standard build.

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MainConcept HEVC/H.265 on ARM
MainConcept HEVC is optimized for up to 1.8X faster encoding and 1.5X faster decoding when compared to a standard build.

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Performance Optimization on Windows

MainConcept AVC/H.264 on ARM
MainConcept AVC is optimized for up to 2.0X faster encoding, and 1.7X faster decoding when compared to a standard build.

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MainConcept HEVC/H.265 on ARM
MainConcept HEVC is optimized for up to 1.4X faster encoding and decoding when compared to a standard build.

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Summary: In every case, regardless of decoding, encoding, codec or format, we were able to extract significant codec performance improvement through assembler optimization.

How to test MainConcept ARM Desktop SDK
Our SDKs are always free to evaluate. Click here to learn more and sign up for a demo copy.

The evaluation software from MainConcept comes with a wide array of components assembled for ARM, including codecs, formats, audio, color conversion, image scaling, network streaming, OTT content creation, and more (view the component list). SDKs are available now for both macOS and Windows.