AWS Elemental Link FAQs

There are two types of AWS Elemental Link devices supporting different video formats and capabilities. AWS Elemental Link UHD devices can transport video to either AWS Elemental MediaLive or AWS Elemental MediaConnect in ultra-high definition (UHD) resolution up to 2160p at 60 fps, with support for high dynamic range (HDR) and 10-bit color depth. AWS Elemental Link HD devices send video to MediaLive in high definition (HD) up to 1080p at 60 frames per second (fps), with 8-bit color depth.

Each Link device requires a specific source type to support these formats: Link UHD devices use a 12G-SDI or HDMI 2.0 video source, while Link HD devices use a 3G-SDI or HDMI video source. The devices also support different numbers of audio channels and features: Link UHD devices support up to 16 audio channels along with Dolby audio passthrough, and Link HD devices support up to 8 audio channels.

Link HD devices take a single video input as a source and send a single video output to AWS Elemental MediaLive. Link UHD devices take a single video input as a source and send a single video output to AWS Elemental MediaLive or MediaConnect. Set up requires three connections: a power source, an IP network, and an SDI or HDMI video source. Link HD also supports Power over Ethernet (PoE) so you can use as few as two cables. On most networks (ones that use DHCP), no further configuration is needed. Link devices come preconfigured for your AWS Account; once connected, the device begins transferring video to MediaLive or MediaConnect, and devices can be stopped and started from the console. Link can go from out-of-the-box to contributing video for streaming or distribution in less than one minute.

You can find the Link HD and Link UHD Quick Start Guides and other documentation on the resources page.

What is AWS Elemental MediaLive?

AWS Elemental MediaLive is a cloud-based live video encoding service that offers fast, reliable, and easy-to-use delivery of high-quality live video streams. MediaLive streamlines live video operations by automating the configuration and management of ingest and encoding components for highly reliable delivery. The service provides broadcast-quality features, configurable capability, and supports industry standard formats and technologies. With the broadcast-grade encoding capabilities of MediaLive, the scale and elasticity of AWS, and the easy setup and management of AWS Elemental Link, you can efficiently deliver live streams to your audiences.

What is AWS Elemental MediaConnect?

AWS Elemental MediaConnect is a reliable, secure, and flexible transport service for live video. Using MediaConnect, you can build live video processing workflows and securely share content with your partners and customers, all using the AWS Cloud. MediaConnect takes your high-quality video from one source and sends it to one or more destinations. MediaConnect adds a quality-of-service layer over standard IP transport, enabling uninterrupted live video connections by using packet recovery, and it supports industry-standard video encryption. By using the video replication feature, you can distribute your streams to multiple workflows within your own account or share your content with other AWS accounts. MediaConnect gives you visibility into your live video’s operational performance with real-time statistics and alerts.

What are some example use cases for Link?

Link devices are great for live event venues because they reduce the upfront cost of equipment that might only be used periodically. For instance, a place of worship can use Link to live stream services on its website, or an arena can use it to broadcast concerts or sporting events. Link is also ideal for organizations that need to centrally manage a large fleet of devices; for example, by installing Link devices in auditoriums, a university or enterprise can centrally manage broadcast-grade streaming of events across an entire campus. Finally, Link’s portability and low cost gives news reporters an easy way to go “on the air” from just about anywhere they need to. All Link devices support high-quality video outputs through an advanced video compression system that continuously adjusts to available bandwidth in order to deliver the best possible video under all network conditions. With Link UHD, use cases that call for extremely high video quality, such as high-profile live events, can take advantage of Link’s ease of management, efficiency, and portability while delivering video outputs up to 2160p at 60fps.
Yes, you can monitor live video from Link devices in real time within the MediaLive console. Link generates video thumbnails every few seconds and supports state alert changes through the AWS Management Console and API. This helps you move quickly to identify, troubleshoot, and resolve technical issues.

Link fits into facilities of practically any size and can be installed in any standard equipment rack. The device fits three across on a standard 19 in. rack shelf. Link devices are easy to transport and take up just a fraction of the space and power of a standard 1U server, making them ideal for flypacks and other types of remote production installations.

Link HD devices encode video with high quality per bit using the HEVC (High Efficiency Video Coding) codec. Link UHD encodes video using either HEVC or AVC (Advanced Video Coding) up to 2160p resolution at 60 fps, with support for 10-bit color depth and HDR.

Link devices transport video with high resiliency using the delivery protocol Zixi, which combines content-aware and network-adaptive forward error correction with error recovery, while minimizing latency.

Yes, Link devices work on networks with low bandwidth. Link HD devices use the HEVC codec and Link UHD devices use the HEVC or AVC codec. Link encodes video with high quality per bit using a network-aware adaptive bitrate algorithm that adjusts in real time to changes in network conditions by varying the bitrate. While the exact bandwidth needed for a high-quality video stream depends on a number of factors including resolution, frame rate, and video complexity, we recommend having at least 5 Mbps for HD (1080p) at 60 FPS video. For Link UHD, 10 bit video requires more network bandwidth and we recommend having at least 25 Mbps for UHD (2160p) at 60 FPS video. If your network has less than bandwidth available, we recommend reducing the frame-rate and/or resolution to get the highest quality video.

What happens when bandwidth changes during my live event?

Link devices use a network-aware adaptive bitrate algorithm, adjusting in real time to changes in network conditions by varying the bitrate of the encoded video. This closed-loop feedback system minimizes packet loss to keep video smooth when network issues occur.

For use cases that require redundancy with MediaLive, two Link devices can feed a standard channel, improving the resiliency of the workflow over a single-pipeline channel. For automatic failover, we recommend using AWS Elemental MediaPackage.

Yes, you can use a single Link device as an input for multiple channels in MediaLive. For example, you could have one channel streaming video to viewers while a second channel creates a high-quality archive of your content.

Yes, Link HD can send up to 8 and Link UHD up to 16 embedded audio channels to MediaLive. If your live stream has multi-language programming or surround-sound audio, Link can also support these workflows.

Yes, you can transfer your Link device from one AWS account to another. If you have multiple AWS accounts or work with third parties that have their own accounts, this makes it easy to transfer device control to the account where video will be sent.

Yes, you can transfer your Link device from one AWS region to another, as long as it’s a region that supports MediaLive. If you use Link for remote events that take place in different geographic locations, transferring the Link device to the closest AWS region for an event can improve the connectivity and latency of the live video feed.