Media Reference Stack

The Media Reference Stack (MeRS) is a highly optimized software stack for Intel® Architecture Processors (the CPU) and Intel® Processor Graphics (the GPU) to enable media prioritized workloads, such as transcoding and analytics.

This guide explains how to use the pre-built MeRS container image, build your own MeRS container image, and use the reference stack.

Overview

Developers face challenges due to the complexity of software integration for media tasks that require investing time and engineering effort. For example:

  • Finding the balance between quality and performance.

  • Understanding available standard-compliant encoders.

  • Optimizing across the hardware-software stack for efficiency.

MeRS abstracts away the complexity of integrating multiple software components and specifically tunes them for Intel platforms. MeRS enables media and visual cloud developers to deliver experiences using a simple containerized solution.

Releases

Refer to the System Stacks for Linux* OS repository for information and download links for the different versions and offerings of the stack.

  • MeRS V0.2.0 release announcement including media processing on GPU and analytics on CPU.

  • MeRS V0.1.0 including media processing and analytics CPU.

  • MeRS Release notes on Github* for the latest release of Deep Learning Reference Stack

Prerequisites

MeRS can run on any host system that supports Docker*. This guide uses Clear Linux* OS as the host system.

Important

For optimal media analytics performance, a processor with Vector Neural Network Instructions (VNNI) should be used. VNNI is an extension of Intel® Advanced Vector Extensions 512 (Intel® AVX-512) and is available starting with the 2nd generation of Intel® Xeon® Scalable processors, providing AI inference acceleration.

Stack features

The MeRS provides a pre-built Docker image available on DockerHub, which includes instructions on building the image from source. MeRS is open-sourced to make sure developers have easy access to the source code and are able to customize it. MeRS is built using the latest clearlinux/os-core Docker image and aims to support the latest Clear Linux OS version.

MeRS provides the following libraries and drivers:

SVT-HEVC

Scalable Video Technology for HEVC encoding, also known as H.265

SVT-AV1

Scalable Video Technology for AV1 encoding

x264

x264 for H.264/MPEG-4 AVC encoding

dav1d

dav1d for AV1 decoding

libVA

VAAPI (Video Acceleration API) open-source library (LibVA), which provides access to graphics hardware acceleration capabilities.

media-driver

Intel® Media Driver for VAAPI for supporting hardware acceleration on Intel® Gen graphics hardware platforms.

gmmlib

Intel® Graphics Memory Management Library provides device specific and buffer management for the Intel® Graphics Compute Runtime for oneAPI Level Zero and OpenCL™ Driver and the Intel Media Driver for VAAPI.

Components of the MeRS include:

Note

The MeRS is validated on 11th generation Intel Processor Graphics and newer. Older generations should work but are not tested against.

Note

The pre-built MeRS container image configures FFmpeg without certain elements (specific encoder, decoder, muxer, etc.) that you may require. If you require changes to FFmpeg we suggest starting at Build the MeRS container image from source.

Note

The Media Reference Stack is a collective work, and each piece of software within the work has its own license. Please see the MeRS Terms of Use for more details about licensing and usage of the Media Reference Stack.

Get the pre-built MeRS container image

Pre-built MeRS Docker images are available on DockerHub* at https://hub.docker.com/r/sysstacks/mers-clearlinux

To use the MeRS:

  1. Pull the image directly from Docker Hub.

    docker pull sysstacks/mers-clearlinux
    

    Note

    The MeRS docker image is large in size and will take some time to download depending on your Internet connection.

    If you are on a network with outbound proxies, be sure to configure Docker to allow access. See the Docker service proxy and Docker client proxy documentation for more details.

  2. Once you have downloaded the image, run it using the following command:

    docker run -it sysstacks/mers-clearlinux
    

    This will launch the image and drop you into a bash shell inside the container. GStreamer and FFmpeg programs are installed in the container image and accessible in the default $PATH. Use these programs as you would outside of MeRS.

    Paths to media files and video devices, such as cameras, can be shared from the host to the container with the --volume switch using Docker volumes.

Build the MeRS container image from source

If you choose to build your own MeRS container image, you can optionally add customizations as needed. The Dockerfile for the MeRS is available on GitHub and can be used as a reference when creating your own container image.

  1. The MeRS image is part of the dockerfiles repository inside the Clear Linux OS organization on GitHub. Clone the stacks repository.

    git clone https://github.com/intel/stacks.git
    
  2. Navigate to the stacks/mers/clearlinux directory which contains the Dockerfile for the MeRS.

    cd ./stacks/mers/clearlinux
    
  3. Use the docker build command with the Dockerfile to build the MeRS container image.

    docker build --no-cache -t sysstacks/mers-clearlinux .
    

Use the MeRS container image

This section shows examples of how the MeRS container image can be used to process media files.

The models and video source can be substituted from your use-case. Some publicly licensed sample videos are available at sample-videos repository for testing.

Media Transcoding

The examples below show transcoding using the GPU or CPU for processing.

  1. On the host system, setup a workspace for data and models:

    mkdir ~/ffmpeg
    mkdir ~/ffmpeg/input
    mkdir ~/ffmpeg/output
    
  2. Copy a video file to ~/ffmpeg/input.

    cp </path/to/video> ~/ffmpeg/input
    
  3. Run the sysstacks/mers-clearlinux Docker image, allowing shared access to the workspace on the host:

    docker run -it \
    --volume ~/ffmpeg:/home/mers-user:ro \
    --device=/dev/dri \
    --env QSV_DEVICE=/dev/dri/renderD128 \
    sysstacks/mers-clearlinux:latest
    

    Note

    The --device parameter and the GSV_DEVICE environment variable allow shared access to the GPU on the host system. The values needed may be different depending on host’s graphics configuration.

    After running the docker run command, you enter a bash shell inside the container.

  4. From the container shell, you can run FFmpeg and GStreamer commands against the videos in /home/mers-user/input as you would normally outside of MeRS.

    Some sample commands are provided for reference.

    For more information on using the FFmpeg commands, refer to the FFmpeg documentation.

    For more information on using the GStreamer commands, refer to the GStreamer documentation.

Example: Transcoding using GPU

The examples below show transcoding using the GPU for processing.

Using a FFmpeg to transcode raw content to SVT-HEVC and mp4:

ffmpeg -y -vaapi_device /dev/dri/renderD128 -f rawvideo -video_size 320x240 -r 30 -i </home/mers-user/input/test.yuv> -vf 'format=nv12, hwupload' -c:v h264_vaapi -y </home/mers-user/output/test.mp4>

Using a GStreamer to transcode H264 to H265:

gst-launch-1.0 filesrc location=</home/mers-user/input/test.264> ! h264parse ! vaapih264dec ! vaapih265enc rate-control=cbr bitrate=5000 ! video/x-h265,profile=main ! h265parse ! filesink location=</home/mers-user/output/test.265>

MeRS builds FFmpeg with HWAccel enabled which supports VAAPI. Refer to the FFmpeg wiki on VAAPI and GStreamer with Media-SDK wiki for more usage examples and compatibility information.

Example: Transcoding using CPU

The example below shows transcoding of raw yuv420 content to SVT-HEVC and mp4, using the CPU for processing.

ffmpeg -f rawvideo -vcodec rawvideo -s 320x240 -r 30 -pix_fmt yuv420p -i </home/mers-user/input/test.yuv> -c:v libsvt_hevc -y </home/mers-user/output/test.mp4>

Additional generic examples of FFmpeg commands can be found in the OpenVisualCloud repository and used for reference with MeRS.

Media Analytics

This example shows how to perform analytics and inferences with GStreamer using the CPU for processing.

The steps here are referenced from the gst-video-analytics Getting Started Guide except simply substituting the gst-video-analytics docker image for the sysstacks/mers-clearlinux image.

The example below shows how to use the MeRS container image to perform video with object detection and attributes recognition of a video using GStreamer using pre-trained models and sample video files.

  1. On the host system, setup a workspace for data and models:

    mkdir ~/gva
    mkdir ~/gva/data
    mkdir ~/gva/data/models
    mkdir ~/gva/data/models/intel
    mkdir ~/gva/data/models/common
    mkdir ~/gva/data/video
    
  2. Clone the opencv/gst-video-analytics repository into the workspace:

    git clone https://github.com/opencv/gst-video-analytics ~/gva/gst-video-analytics
    cd ~/gva/gst-video-analytics
    git submodule init
    git submodule update
    
  3. Clone the Open Model Zoo repository into the workspace:

    git clone https://github.com/opencv/open_model_zoo.git ~/gva/open_model_zoo
    
  4. Use the Model Downloader tool of Open Model Zoo to download ready to use pre-trained models in IR format.

    Note

    If you are on a network with outbound proxies, you will need to configure set environment variables with the proxy server. Refer to the documentation on Proxy Configuration for detailed steps.

    On Clear Linux OS systems you will need the python-extras bundle. Use sudo swupd bundle-add python-extras for the downloader script to work.

    cd ~/gva/open_model_zoo/tools/downloader
    python3 downloader.py --list ~/gva/gst-video-analytics/samples/model_downloader_configs/intel_models_for_samples.LST -o ~/gva/data/models/intel
    
  5. Copy a video file in h264 or mp4 format to ~/gva/data/video. Any video with cars, pedestrians, human bodies, and/or human faces can be used.

    git clone https://github.com/intel-iot-devkit/sample-videos.git ~/gva/data/video
    

    This example simply clones all the video files from the sample-videos repsoitory.

  6. From a desktop terminal, allow local access to the X host display.

    xhost local:root
    
    export DATA_PATH=~/gva/data
    export GVA_PATH=~/gva/gst-video-analytics
    export MODELS_PATH=~/gva/data/models
    export INTEL_MODELS_PATH=~/gva/data/models/intel
    export VIDEO_EXAMPLES_PATH=~/gva/data/video
    
  7. Run the sysstacks/mers-clearlinux docker image, allowing shared access to the X server and workspace on the host:

    docker run -it --runtime=runc --net=host \
    -v ~/.Xauthority:/root/.Xauthority \
    -v /tmp/.X11-unix:/tmp/.X11-unix \
    -e DISPLAY=$DISPLAY \
    -e HTTP_PROXY=$HTTP_PROXY \
    -e HTTPS_PROXY=$HTTPS_PROXY \
    -e http_proxy=$http_proxy \
    -e https_proxy=$https_proxy \
    -v $GVA_PATH:/home/mers-user/gst-video-analytics \
    -v $INTEL_MODELS_PATH:/home/mers-user/intel_models \
    -v $MODELS_PATH:/home/mers-user/models \
    -v $VIDEO_EXAMPLES_PATH:/home/mers-user/video-examples \
    -e MODELS_PATH=/home/mers-user/intel_models:/home/mers-user/models \
    -e VIDEO_EXAMPLES_DIR=/home/mers-user/video-examples \
    sysstacks/mers-clearlinux:latest
    

    Note

    In the docker run command above:

    • --runtime=runc specifies the container runtime to be runc for this container. It is needed for correct interaction with X server.

    • --net=host provides host network access to the container. It is needed for correct interaction with X server.

    • Files ~/.Xauthority and /tmp/.X11-unix mapped to the container are needed to ensure smooth authentication with X server.

    • -v instances are needed to map host system directories inside the Docker container.

    • -e instances set the Docker container environment variables. Some examples need these variables set correctly in order to operate correctly. Proxy variables are needed if host is behind a firewall.

    After running the docker run command, it will drop you into a bash shell inside the container.

  8. From the container shell, run a sample analytics program in ~/gva/gst-video-analytics/samples against your video source.

    Below are sample analytics that can be run against the sample videos. Choose one to run:

    • Samples with face detection and classification:

      ./gst-video-analytics/samples/shell/face_detection_and_classification.sh $VIDEO_EXAMPLES_DIR/face-demographics-walking-and-pause.mp4
      ./gst-video-analytics/samples/shell/face_detection_and_classification.sh $VIDEO_EXAMPLES_DIR/face-demographics-walking.mp4
      ./gst-video-analytics/samples/shell/face_detection_and_classification.sh $VIDEO_EXAMPLES_DIR/head-pose-face-detection-female-and-male.mp4
      ./gst-video-analytics/samples/shell/face_detection_and_classification.sh $VIDEO_EXAMPLES_DIR/head-pose-face-detection-male.mp4
      ./gst-video-analytics/samples/shell/face_detection_and_classification.sh $VIDEO_EXAMPLES_DIR/head-pose-face-detection-female.mp4
      

      When running, a video with object detection and attributes recognition (bounding boxes around faces with recognized attributes) should be played.

      Face detection with the Clear Linux* OS Media Reference Stack

      Figure 1: Screenshot of MeRS running face detection with GSTreamer and OpenVINO.

    • Sample with vehicle detection:

      ./gst-video-analytics/samples/shell/vehicle_detection_2sources_cpu.sh $VIDEO_EXAMPLES_DIR/car-detection.mp4
      

      When running, a video with object detection and attributes recognition (bounding boxes around vehicles with recognized attributes) should be played.

      Vehicle detection with the Clear Linux* OS Media Reference Stack

      Figure 2: Screenshot of MeRS running vehicle detection with GSTreamer and OpenVINO.

    • Sample with FPS measurement:

      ./gst-video-analytics/samples/shell/console_measure_fps_cpu.sh $VIDEO_EXAMPLES_DIR/bolt-detection.mp4
      

Add AOM support

The current version of MeRS does not include the Alliance for Open Media Video Codec (AOM). AOM can be built from source on an individual basis.

To add AOM support to the MeRS image:

  1. The following programs are needed to add AOM support to MeRS: docker, git, patch. On Clear Linux OS these can be installed with the commands below. For other operating systems, install the appropriate packages.

    sudo swupd bundle-add containers-basic dev-utils
    
  2. Clone the Intel Stacks repository from GitHub.

    git clone https://github.com/intel/stacks.git
    
  3. Navigate to the directory for the MeRS image.

    cd stacks/mers/clearlinux/
    
  4. Apply the patch to the Dockerfile.

    patch -p1 < aom-patches/stacks-mers-v2-include-aom.diff
    
  5. Use the docker build command to build a local copy of the MeRS container image tagged as aom.

    docker build --no-cache -t sysstacks/mers-clearlinux:aom .
    

Once the build has completed successfully, the local image can be used following the same steps in this tutorial by substituting the image name with sysstacks/mers-clearlinux:aom.

Intel, Xeon, OpenVINO, and the Intel logo are trademarks of Intel Corporation or its subsidiaries. OpenCL and the OpenCL logo are trademarks of Apple Inc. used by permission by Khronos.