AWS for M&E Blog

Next-generation AWS Elemental Live hardware unlocks new possibilities for video workflows


Amazon Web Services (AWS) and AWS Elemental have long-committed to providing the most versatile and feature-complete line of physical encoding appliances for our customers to use in their own data centers and technical operations centers (TOCs). We are pleased to announce that this commitment continues with the release of the next generation of AWS Elemental Live L900 series appliances, which are available now.

Customers asked us for a better way to expand density while transitioning their on-premises infrastructure from SDI to uncompressed IP. Our response is the new series of AWS Elemental L900 Appliance Edition encoders, which offer greater density at a predictable cost-per-channel, with a more robust selection of I/O configurations. Whether you’re contributing hundreds of channels to AWS for downstream processing and distribution, or building statistical multiplexers on premises in your data center, the new appliances can become the core of your physical video infrastructure.

To view the full list of new appliances and their specification sheets, please visit the AWS Elemental Live Resources page.

AWS Elemental Live

Noteworthy updates

UHD and HDR workflows are now common across the media and entertainment industry. New hardware L900 appliances enable more customers to support these high-quality channels. The L920, L940, and L980 appliances support one or more UHD HEVC workflows, multiple HDR protocols such as HLG or Dolby Vision, and (optionally) uncompressed IP inputs and outputs. On the upper range, the L980 provides the highest density of UHD/HDR channels that AWS Elemental has ever released, further maximizing channel density in a single appliance.

On the software side, with the release of Elemental Live software version 2.26.0, Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) operating system is now the preferred operating system. New units ship with RHEL and Live 2.26.0 (or newer) installed, ready to be customized to work in your on-premises environment. For customers with L700 and L800 series appliances covered by an Elemental Support contract, we recommend upgrading to Live software 2.26.1 or newer through the AWS Elemental Support Console.

Customers are at various phases in their transition from SDI to uncompressed IP, and we wanted to help simplify that process further with our whitepaper on Uncompressed IP on AWS. Expanding this support, each new appliance now has two separate SKU lines, one dedicated to uncompressed IP workflows that run both SDI and SMPTE ST 2110, SMPTE 2022-6, and JPEG XS (signified with a “-U“ in the name) workflows and one dedicated to more traditional compressed network and SDI workflows. Whichever route you choose, higher density per node is now achievable. For more information, a good starting point is the SMPTE ST 2110 workflows on AWS Elemental Live blog series and you can also read more about how to do JPEG XS contribution in Elemental Live.

The “-U“ IP L900 appliances now support up to 4x the bandwidth of L800 models. With the new NVIDIA Mellanox ConnectX 6 I/O cards added, Live appliances now support red/blue network configurations where each NIC is connected independently to 10/25/40/100 Gbps QSFP28 modules, allowing for packet-level failover using SMPTE 2022-7. (50Gbps SFPs are not supported.) The Live software requires direct cabling for these SFPs, so please do not use breakout cables or attempt channelization between the SFPs and your network switch as errors will occur. The ConnectX 6 card is a hard requirement for any L900 series to support uncompressed live media.

This image shows an architectural diagram of Elemental Live appliances providing feeds to the AWS Elemental Media Services and Amazon CloudFront.



The AWS Elemental Live L900 series appliances are in a new 1 rack unit (RU) chassis and fit in a standard rack with a depth of 31.85 inches. The smallest appliances in the series, the L900 and L901, which have a depth of 21.04 inches, fit easily in almost any rack or road case. The CPUs range from 16 to 192 physical cores, depending on the unit, with density gains ranging from 44% – 100% improvement over the previous L800 series. DC power conversion kits can be purchased for the L910 appliance (or greater models) if needed. As always, the L900 series appliances have the same great orange bezel.

Other notable improvements are the upgrade to DDR5 RAM to increase memory bandwidth and better thermal handling, which doubles the write performance to the SATA drives. The BIOS is now UEFI, so the legacy BIOS is no longer supported. AJA PCIe cards are used for HD-SDI, 3G-SDI, and 12G-SDI workflows. Full specs can be reviewed for each SKU individually on the resources page, and example workflows can be reviewed in the previous release announcement blog post.

Upgrading existing appliances

Existing customers can easily download and run a new RHEL kickstart from the AWS console, a simple upgrade process to the latest software. This allows customers who purchase new units to run the same software across their entire fleet, a requirement when the fleet is managed by AWS Elemental Conductor Live. For customers with an Enterprise Red Hat subscription in need of installing additional packages, using your own login credentials to download and install custom packages is fully supported. Our engineering team releases minor software versions continuously with no requirement for an additional kickstart.

The upgrade from standard to uncompressed (-U) appliances can be done either at the time of purchase, or at a later date by working directly with your AWS Account Manager. With NVIDIA licensing and specialized SDK requirements, all upgrades must be handled through AWS and you should not attempt to supply your own NVIDIA hardware when upgrading to uncompressed IP workflows.

SMPTE ST 2110 outputs require an add-on license to work with the newest software. This license can be provided at no additional cost by your AWS Account Manager.

Ordering process

Every customer has unique density requirements, so we recommend reaching out to your Account Manager who works with a dedicated Solutions Architect to run density simulations on a variety of SKUs. This mitigates the risk of over- or under-provisioning hardware, limiting the expenditures to the minimum required. The Solutions Architect will match your I/O requirements and Live channel settings to produce density testing results that will help determine the right SKU and fleet size for your workflow.

If you are a new customer, feel free to Contact Us to learn more.

Smaller size options

For simple HD and UHD channel contribution to AWS Elemental MediaLive or AWS Elemental MediaConnect, you can use the small form factor and low power AWS Elemental Link HD and UHD devices. Link can eliminate a lot of the heavy lifting from your on-premises data center. It provides contribution feeds directly to the cloud, where control is provided via the AWS Management Console.

For customers who require the fine-grained control that the Elemental Live software provides, we now offer a new bring-your-own-hardware model for qualified small-form factor hardware. More specifics can be found here in this upgrade guide.

Final considerations

Many customers take full advantage of hybrid setups to lower cap-ex costs and achieve higher scalability and resiliency. AWS Elemental Live encoders can be used for contribution to Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3), AWS Elemental MediaConnect, or AWS Elemental MediaLive, which can help alleviate bottlenecks as you grow and expand globally.

To provide deep dives for your technical teams into our native Media and Edge Services, AWS offers Media Immersion days which are organized by your Account Manager and Specialist Solutions Architects. These immersion days are tailored to suit your needs and range from multi-day, in-person events to simple multi-hour virtual sessions. Immersion days are designed to speed up your implementation of AWS hardware and managed-services.

If you are looking for self-paced learning, we recommend reviewing the modules in the One Media Workshop, which provide 100-400 level exercises to better familiarize yourself with our recommendations for media processing and delivery.

As always, we are here to support you on your media journey. Enjoy your new hardware.

Brian Bedard

Brian Bedard

Sr. Solutions Architect for AWS Elemental