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Azure cloud to trial 4K and HDR video streams

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Microsoft is to begin trialling 4K Ultra-High Definition (UHD) and HDR video streams following via its Azure Media Services, a part of the Azure cloud.

“Today I am pleased to announce that we are conducting trials of HEVC encoding and delivery in Azure Media Services with our customers,” said Anil Murching, senior program manager of Azure Media Services at Microsoft, in a Sept. 9 announcement.

Microsoft said the trials are based on its cloud-based Premium Encoder offering and the new HEVC/H.265 (High Efficiency Video Coding) standard for video compression. The codec delivers bit-rate savings of fifty percent compared to the older AVC/H.264 standard. As such, Microsoft’s Premium Encoder will support HEVC at resolutions of 4096 x 2160 pixels at 60 frames per second, Murching said in the announcement. The encoder uses the HDR10 media profile, which enables content providers to stream “vibrant video footage” to compatible displays.

Microsoft has also added enhanced automatic tuning capabilities to its cloud database, which dramatically slashes the time required to optimize database performance, said Vladimir Ivanovic, senior program manager of database systems at Microsoft, in a Sept. 6 blog post.

The update to Azure SQL Database Advisor “greatly reduces the time (from a week to a day) required to produce and implement index tuning recommendations,” Ivanovic wrote. “This brings us one step closer to our vision where developers no longer have to worry about physical database schema management, as the system will self-optimize to provide predictable and optimal performance for every database application.”

The Azure SQL Database Advisor uses machine-learning software to make recommendations on how to improve Azure SQL database performance. Using the tool, it’s possible to apply those recommendations automatically by turning o the Automatic Tuning option.

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