Alibaba Cloud successfully hosted the world’s first livestream in 8K resolution via the internet, the company said Wednesday.
On March 28, the cloud-computing arm of Alibaba Group leveraged its own network to conduct a three-minute broadcast from the Chinese e-commerce giant’s Hangzhou headquarters to the Alibaba Cloud Computing Conference, 1,300 kilometers away, in Shenzhen.
The livestream delivered a definition of 33 million pixels per frame and a resolution of 7,680 by 4,320 pixels. That’s double the pixels in 4K, which is the best-quality video currently in wide use, and about 16 times that of a typical high-definition video.
WATCH: The World’s First Internet Livestream in 8K
“Alibaba Cloud’s 8K Internet live streaming heralds a new era for high-resolution video cloud solutions, just as 4K resolution did in 2013,” Zhaoyuan Zhu, head of Alibaba Cloud’s Content Delivery Network business, said.
8K broadcasts have been conducted before, however they were done via satellite rather than the internet. Also, while Alibaba Cloud provided the network to deliver the higher resolution, separate 8K hardware is necessary to achieve a successful broadcast, including both a camera and a display. That technology is still under development. Indeed, 8K televisions have yet to reach the market, although at least one is expected later this year.
The higher the resolution, the more information that needs to be transmitted over the internet, which presents new bandwidth challenges for the host, Alibaba Cloud said. As a solution, the company used proprietary software for video playback and live streaming, a dedicated live broadcast center, high-speed video channels and elastic computing servers to provide end-to-end 8K streaming.
Alibaba Cloud also has a content delivery network with over 1,300 nodes around the world capable of delivering future 8K livestreams to a global audience, the company said.
The uses for 8K technology range from gaming and entertainment to medicine. Doctors in Japan are already using 8K instruments in some surgeries, while 8K livestreaming is expected to enable doctors to conduct surgeries remotely.
“We will continue to develop our services to support these different applications,” Zhu said.