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PCs are finally catching up with cheap streamers

- April 25, 2017 - 2 Comments

Contributors: Amit Wohl

If you compare any video streamer to a reasonably new PC, then you will find that the PC spec is far superior to that of the streamer. But when it comes to actually viewing premium content – I mean 4K/UHD stuff – then streamers are clearly winning over the mighty PCs, including those used as game consoles and home media centers.

The reason for this is the open architecture of the PC, which until recently made it difficult to meet the high standards of protection required by content owners. A high level blueprint for these requirements is described in the MovieLabs Specification for Enhanced Content Protection. Requirements call for providing an isolated, secured environment for processing video, to ensure that only authorized applications have access to it.

But Intel and Cisco are working to change all that.

At this week’s NAB Show, in Las Vegas, Cisco will demonstrate its collaborative work with Intel to secure UHD content for playback on PC platforms. Since its 7th Generation Processors, Intel is offering Software Guard Extensions (“Intel SGX”), a trusted execution environment technology that allows application developers to protect code and data running in SGX from disclosure or modification. Cisco integrated the digital rights management (DRM) components of its content protection system into SGX to enable secure processing of viewing entitlements, descrambling the content and securely handing it off to the Protected Audio/Video Pathway (PAVP) for rendering. As a result, PCs are now able to implement the enhanced content protection required for UHD content.

By utilizing SGX, Cisco retains full ownership and control of the content protection solution, to ensure its ongoing integrity, compatibility with industry standards and performance going forward. The Cisco solution also works across all Web browsers to allow video service subscribers to view the content they want on the browser of their choice.

Tech stuff aside, this is a big deal for content owners, video service providers and consumers. Content owners can now distribute their content to PC-based platforms, knowing that it will be protected to the highest standards. Video service providers will be able to extend their service reach to PC platforms, and to all popular browsers on the PC (for those that rely on browsers for video playback). It’ll also be a big deal for consumers, who will finally be able to watch UHD content on their PCs and laptops.

Please consider this an open invitation to come over to the Las Vegas Convention Center and see our demo. We’re in booth #SU8502 CM.

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2 Comments

    I don't understand the roadmap that puts Cisco into this arena, albeit I don't understand streaming content that well. For example, why do I have to watch content over the air on a local channel or cable provider, but I can't get that same content on my Roku or Apple TV in real time?

    Looking forward to seeing some of those Marvel films in UHD. An interesting side shoot for Cisco to get into, DRm & SGX.

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