[Guangzhou, China, May 10, 2021] 8K UHD is the next big thing in the Chinese TV industry, and HiSilicon is proud to play a leading role.
As 4K video goes mainstream — with a mammoth value in the hundreds of billions of Yuan, we are also on the verge of another jump in resolution. China has become the largest 4K market, reaching more than 200 million 4K users in 2020, and is leading the way in 8K development, incorporating 8K together with 5G into its national development strategy.
8K: The New Gold Standard for Large Events
China is now on the vanguard in the 8K realm. 2020 witnessed a range of successful 8K live broadcast pilot projects across China, including concerts hosted by the National Centre for the Performing Arts, and the 2020 final for the Chinese Super League. 2021 will see 8K deployed at scale, with an even greater number of large events presented in 8K: the 2020 Spring Festival Gala (which has been aired live in 8K to nine cities across China), China's first live-action 8K opera movie, the 2022 Winter Olympic Games, and more.
Overcoming Technological Hurdles: World-Class 8K Innovation
Thanks to painstaking work across the board, 8K end-to-end technology is now ready for prime time. Thanks to its flourishing supply chains and Internet sector, China is the fastest growing market in the global 8K device industry, and a market leader in 8K technical prowess. Let's start with the foundation – chips: In 2019, HiSilicon had launched the first-ever 8K120 decoding chip in China, which supports HDMI 2.1, whereas NHK, Japan's public broadcaster, was still producing STBs with HDMI 2.0 ports at the time. Advancements in chip technology have inspired innovation in 8K devices, such as TVs, STBs, and XR devices. In terms of recording devices, devices from Chinese manufactures have emerged as serious contenders. In addition, 8K devices are also capable of leveraging AI super resolution (SR) technology to upscale traditional content to 8K.
Overcoming Infrastructure Hurdles: FTTx Network is Ready to Go
China has registered the highest FTTH access rate and the largest 5G network in the world, paving the way for bringing 8K into homes, and making 8K delivery feasible for all conceivable scenarios, via both wired and wireless connectivity methods.
China features some of the best access infrastructure in the world. It has the world's largest FTTx network, with a total of 484 million fixed broadband subscribers, of which 454 million are FTTx subscribers. 90% of these subscribers have a bandwidth of more than 100 Mbit/s. The access networks of these subscribers are capable of supporting 8K 100 Mbit/s streams, or of supporting higher-level 8K streams after simple retrofitting. The rate acceleration and tariff reduction (95% drop in unit bandwidth fees) offered by carriers further lowers the barrier entry for 8K in households.
For 8K outdoor screens, 5G can be effective in locations where wired access is difficult or impossible. As of late 2020, China had built 718,000 5G base stations, forming the world's largest 5G network. According to the tests conducted by the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology (CAICT) in 2020 on key road segments in 10 major cities, the 5G download speed exceeds 600 Mbit/s, which is sufficient for outdoor 8K content transmission.
Overcoming Broadcasting Platform Hurdles
On Chinese New Year's Eve, the 2021 Spring Festival Gala was aired at 120 Mbit/s under the AVS3 encoding standard, to 10 cities, with a transmission distance of thousands of kilometers, covering half of China. This demonstrates that an 8K digital production and broadcasting platform can integrate 8K content collection, production, encoding, transmission, VOD, and presentation, as well as promotes the application of the 8K standard and the development of production and broadcasting equipment in China. Meanwhile, hybrid fiber coax (HFC) based broadcast platforms are also being tested, with 8K live broadcasts of events such as the 2020 final for the Chinese Super League.
Overcoming Content Hurdles
Transforming content sources is key to the development of the 8K industry.
8K content for commercial use: Exorbitantly-priced, non-Chinese devices still dominate the 8Kp60 space, due to requirements in chip and image tuning capability. These devices are developed based on FPGAs, and use proprietary algorithms.
8K content for consumers: Portable, HiSilicon 8K+AI chip-powered cameras from Z CAM, BOSMA, and other Chinese manufactures are competing against premium-tier products. Hollywood studios are also using Z CAM devices for filming.
User-generated content: Some of the latest flagship smartphones are capable of 8Kp24 shooting, and more 8K capable photography and video tools available to consumers are expected to arrive soon.
Upscaling: Upscaling using AI SR is the main workaround for the lack of native 8K content. This approach gives viewers the opportunity to watch existing videos in 8K splendor.
Innovation to the on-device user experience (picture quality, audio, multi-view, and XR) helps ensure that more users can enjoy vibrant 8K content.
At the 2021 World UHD Video Industrial Conference, HiSilicon (Shanghai) has proposed the following:
• Delivering more and better 8K content
• Providing policy guidance and support for the 8K industry, such as core technologies and user subsidies
• Introducing innovative experiences and services, for example, offering 360-degree views, multi-views, and XR/VR
• Preferentially adopting Chinese standards in 8K content
While 8K is the next hurdle in the development of the UHD industry and technology, HiSilicon is committed to helping power the 8K industry forward, by partnering with other stakeholders across the value chain, and fueling the next wave of 8K innovation.